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NUMBER 25 



$1 50 




for creative adventures 



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November-December, No. 25, 1979 


IN THIS ISSUE 






SPECIAL STELLAR CONQUEST ISSUE 




5 STELLAR CONQUEST 






Third Time Around 






* Howard Thompson 






7 IN/MICA L WA YS TO PLA Y STEL LA R CONQUEST 


Strategies for a classic 






* James G. Branaum 






10 EXPANDING YOUR STELLAR CONQUESTS 




Another look at Stellar Conquest 






* Frank B. Weir, Jr. 






12 ORDER OUT OF CHAOS 






Benefit Cost Analysis in Wargaming 






* Glenn L. Williams 






16 AG A IN, HA RMONIOUS FISTS 






More Far East fighting 

* David James Ritchie 










20 THE CASE OF THE MISSING MICROS 






A short Story 

* 77m So/is 






21 CYBORG 






A review 






* W. G. Armm trout 






22 STA R FLEET BA TTL ES 






A review 






* Kenneth W. Burke 






23 EVER YD A Y L IFE IN TFT 






How about a mall over there? 






*Martin Halbert 






26 THE UNWRITTEN RULES OF RIVETS 






Robot strategies 

* Roland Parenteau 










DEPARTMENTS 






WHERE WE'RE GOING 




. 3 


1978 FEEDBACK RESULTS 




18 


NEWS & PLUGS 




27 


LETTERS 




30 


ART IN THIS ISSUE 






Robert Phillips 


cover 




Roderick Phillips 


. . . 3 




Will McLean 6,7, 


10,28 






. . 11 




Aaron Arocho 


. . 17 


Mitch O'Connell 


21,23 




Richard Mather 


. . 22 




Eric Hotz 


. . 24 




Gene Woodley 


. . 26 




Ken Mitchroney 


. . 27 






. . 30 





C. Ben Ostrander 

editor 

Howard Thompson 

publisher 

Karol Sandberg 
Donna Baker 

copy editors 

Steve Jackson 

contributing editor 

Robert Taylor 
news editor 

Kim Falke 
Vicki Fischer 

subscriptions 



THE SPACE GAMER Is published bi-monthly 
by Matagamlng. 3100-A Industrial Tarrace, 
Austin, TX 78759. SUBSCRIPTION information, 
changes of address, orders, and all mailed material 
to Metagaming, P.O. Box 15346, Austin, TX 
78761. All material copyright © 1979 by THE 
SPACE GAMER. All rights reserved for material 
accepted for publication unless Initially specified 
and agreed otherwise. News Items and product 
announcements subject to editorial whim. SUB- 
SCRIPTIONS: six issues, S8; twelve issues, $15. 
Base rate for unsolicited manuscripts is one cent 
per word; they must be typed, double spaced, and 
contain return postage. Base rate for art is $20 
per average page size; interior art should be black 
ink on heavy white paper. Second class postage 
paid at Austin, Texas. 





ere Metis Cooing 1 



STELLAR CONQUEST and GODSFIRE 
have now been re-issued as boxed games. 
Unlike the first delivery of boxes, these are 
compatible with our components. Also, these 
boxes are correctly sized; covers are true 
full-color. The counters are excellent quality 
printing and cutting. That's at least some 
consolation for an extra six months' wait. 
By the time you read this, your local stores 
ought to have STELLAR CONQUEST and 
GODSFIRE available. 

THE FANTASY TRIP: IN THE LABY- 
RINTH is now in the production phase. Before 
Steve Jackson left for North Americon, rules 
had been typeset. There is one problem. We'd 
originally expected 60-80 pages of material for 
the rules. What we have will probably work out 
to 140-150 pages. The component budget 
will have to give somewhere else to accomodate 
this wealth of material. 

Despite length, gamers won't be faced with 
unplayability or tedious complexity. Most of 
the rules are actually tables of creatures, magic 
spells, fighter talents and stocking for the part 
of the labyrinth provided. Actual rules for play 
are proportionally small and in some cases, 
rehash necessary portions of MELEE and 
WIZARD. 

Don't order TFT: ITL yet. Price still isn't 
certain, though under $20 is the target. Release 
date hasn't been set. 

The next two Micros are HOT SPOT and a 
double title, ANNIHILATOR/ONEWORLD. 
Both will retail for $2.95. HOT SPOT is a fast 
playing game with a few interesting wrinkles. 
A fleet fleeing the Terran Empire needs refuel- 
ing. The only available source is the molten 
mining world of Chiros. The raid must capture 
some of the floating production Crustals to 
save the fleet. The defender has control of 
Crustal movement and the attacker's units 
must succeed before melting. 

ANNIHILATOR concerns a demolition 
team's effort to destroy the central brain of 
a cybernetic space fort. The simulation in- 
cludes landing, break-in, battle in corridors 
with robots and repair units, and nuclear 
charges. ONEWORLD allows players to deter- 
mine which of two gods will dominate. Each 
has his children, in the aspects of Stone, Blade 
and Fog. The Singing Grasses, Towers of 
Balance, Crystal Pylons and Faults of Chaos 
all play a role in the struggle. ONEWORLD 
combat is diceless. 



ANNIHILATOR/ONEWORLD were each a 
bit light for separate Micro production, so we 
decided to put them into one package. We'd 
rather give you a two for one and have a good 
seller than give you less than the usual quality 
Micro. 

METAGAMING is expanding into historical 
MicroGames. One such game about the Second 
World War will be ready in early 1980. Yeh, 
it's an overworked area, but there aren't many 
games which cover the entire European theatre 
and can be played to completion in a few 
hours. This is NOT a monster game, just a 
playable, fun game. Various scenarios will 
allow the system to function for conflicts 
anywhere in the 1930-50 time span. A second 
historical Micro being planned will be about 
Rommel's Afrika Korps. The scale is unit 
tactical, but fairly clean and simple. 

A lunar tactical game is also in the works. It 
includes an alien scenario. Steve has already 
roughed-out an infantry combat game based 
in the OGRE universe. You may have thought 
the infantry in OGRE dull; Steve thought 
otherwise, and you will too. 

Now that IN THE LABYRINTH is near 
completion, the backlog of MicroQuests based 
on THE FANTASY TRIP will begin to flow. 
Watch for them. 

Planned is a sequel to our summer hit, 
INVASION OF THE AIR EATERS. This 
untitled game will cover combat in the inner 
solar system with separate maps for a number 
of planets and moons. Also included will be an 
inner solar system orbit map for planet and 
spaceship movement. Jupiter is a base for the 
Air Eaters. There may be some multi-player 
scenarios developed by publication time. 



METAGAMING's space role-playing system 
is now well along in playtesting. The method 
of handling characters has undergone a major 
revision, giving them more life. Expect to 
see the first Micro in this system to be pub- 
lished in early 1980. The gamemaster seg- 
ments are being designed concurrently with the 
character combat and spaceship modules. 
We don't want the long delay that hit the 
release of the gamemaster's material for THE 
FANTASY TRIP. 

WIZARD, DEATH TEST, OLYMPICA, 
and G.E.V. will all be reprinted soon. You'll 
see the new editions after Christmas. OLYM- 
PICA will get some clean-up on rules and a 
new map. If you liked it before, then the new 
edition will be worth your time. Two of the 
other three reprints will feature new covers and 
some minor copy changes. Those of you who 
liked the Roger Stine cover on the last edition 
of MELEE will appreciate his new effort for 
WIZARD. 

Keith Gross, who brought us INVASION 
OF THE AIR EATERS and ICE WAR, has 
joined Metagaming's staff full time as designer 
and games editor. This should mean an in- 



creased and steady flow of games to market. 
Now that we've got a competent box and 
counter manufacturer, delays of that type will 
not be a problem. Of course, there will always 
be other problems 

THINKING GAMES 

Our recent efforts to publish material for 
thought-provoking insight were poorly received. 
Readers didn't like the psychology piece or 
the recent "editorial". Response was moderate- 
ly well received. Perhaps THE SPACE GAMER 
shouldn't attempt to be more than entertain- 
ment for gamers. There is certainly more 
profit in entertainment than in thought. You'll 
see more of Response in the future, but no 
"thought" pieces. 

CROWDED GAMES 

Every time I pick up a new issue of a game 
related magazine, there seem to be more and 
more new firms. There are board game firms, 
miniature firms and subsidiary product firms. 
Many have gone out of business in the last 
year or have otherwise been revamped. What's 
surprising is the flood of new firms when few 
of the old really make any profit. 

Heritage Models (see News & Plugs) is one 
of the three largest firms in our industry. 
Yet, without the change in ownership, it would 
have failed. There are a lot of firms with good, 
growing sales but little in the way of profits. 
Why do so many people want to get into this 
business? Beats the hell outa me. If Meta- 
gaming had to start now, we wouldn't make 
it. Many of the newer efforts won't either. 
The exceptions will be those who have good 
financing. They will survive for a time with 
mediocre products, the best they seem capable 
of producing. 

Frankly, I've lost track of what's happening 
in the industry. I know what Metagaming 
is doing, plus a few of the big firms' activities. 
Beyond that, it's all a haze. Something unique 
and truly great could come out and years 
go by before I knew it. What will happen is 
more fragmenting of gaming interests. Once, 
you could own every game published. Then 
you had to concentrate on historical or role 
playing or whatever. It's going to fragment 
even further in the 80's. Price range, age 
range and game appeal will all become criteria 
for splintered interests. 

Well, that's it for this time. Our fall has 
been super busy in all areas. The box problem 
is now solved. A back log of projects that 
seem to have been hanging forever is about 
to bust loose. Those who've been with us the 
whole way can stick around for 1980. After 
all, Metagaming brought you the first science 
fiction and fantasy game magazine, the inno- 
vation of MicroGames, and the art standards 
for the industry. Maybe we've got a few more 
things up our sleeves 

Howard Thompson 




WAR IN HELL. 



Chiros was a molten, planetary hell. It was also a vital 
production center that the Technocrat rebels had to cap- 
ture. 

HOT SPOT is a tactical game about the Technocrat 
raid on Chiros. The Ziegler Corporations maintains fragile, 
floating platforms called crustals, that move through the 
molten rock. The crustals are defended by infantry and 
hovercraft. The technocrat attackers are strong, but they 
must capture crustals quickly, before their attack platforms 
break up and their units melt into the lava. You decide 
the outcome in this fun and exciting game. 

Components include: 
*24 page rules booklet 
*12"x 14" map 
*63 unit counters 
19 "crustal" counters 



TWO GAMES IN ONE. 



OneWorld is the game of godly conflict for those who've dreamed 
secretly of divine power. Each player is a god who must contend 
with a pretentious challenger. Your "children" wage the struggle 
in their aspects of Blade, Stone and Fog. Over the Singing Grasses, 
Runelines, The Faults of Chaos and on the Crystal Pylons the 
battle rages. OneWorld is a fast playing, humorous game, which 
features a diceless combat system. This is an excellent game for 
starters or an amusing diversion for the afficcianado. 

ANNIHILATOR is a giant, planet-killing, computer-controlled 
spaceship. Pan-Human Alliance assault squads and demolition 
teams blast their way through the ship to get to Annihilator's brain 
core. The ship has security robots, repairbots, and automatic 
defenses to stop the humans. Like OneWorld, ANNIHILATOR 
is a tense and exciting game. 

Components include: 
*24 page rules booklet 
*Two game maps 
*129 unit counters 




HOT SPOT and ANNIHILA TOR/ONEWORLD are available at your local hobby, toy, or 
book stores-ask for them. Both are $2.95 when ordered from Metagaming. Subscribers to 
THE SPACE GAMER pay $2.50. Each order requires a 50-cent postage charge. 



<@etagaming 

Box 15346, Austin, TX 78761 



STELMft CONQUEST 

Third Time Around 



by 

Howard Thompson 



The third printing of STELLAR CON- 
QUEST contains a few minor revisions from the 
first two editions plus a new rules section. All 
substantive changes and the new section are 
covered or fully reproduced here. There is no 
necessity to buy the new edition if you have 
this article. The preface explains the reasons. 

PREFACE TO THE THIRD PRINTING 

STELLAR CONQUEST has become a minor 
classic since its introduction in 1974. It was 
among the very first science fiction simulation 
games. It was the first simulation at the society 
level. It is one of the few simulation games 
still widely played four years after introduc- 
tion. STELLAR CONQUEST has become the 
standard by which other society level games 
are measured. 

The popularity of STELLAR CONQUEST 
with gamers is gratifying. It is praticularly 
gratifying knowing that the Avalon Hill com- 
pany rejected STELLAR CONQUEST in 1973. 
STELLAR CONQUEST was the start of Meta- 
gaming, then known as Metagaming Concepts. 
It led to THE SPACE GAMER, our own 
science fiction S fantasy game magazine. 
It paved the way for the innovation of Micro- 
Games. STELLAR CONQUEST proved ■■ama- 
teurs" could compete with the established 
companies. 

In preparing STELLAR CONQUEST for a 
third printing I've been surprised. The rules 
and design hold up well compared to current 
games. The decision not to revise the game 
seems justified. You don't alter a classic. It 
stands as a testament and example of its time. 

CHANGES by Rules Section 

4.2.2 This rule is modified to allow Star Card 
data to be passed to other players, if desired. 
It also now states that, "no details about a 
colony are given at this time." 

5.4.1 Added: "Players may route ships 
around Gas/Dust cloud hexes if it results in a 
time savings." 

6.1 Added: "Optionally, players may mu- 
tually decide to resolve combats out of the 
view of the uninvolved players." 

7.2 Clarified so that players understand that a 
conqueror receives all information about a 
conquered colony. 



7.2.7 Clarified so that players understand the 
conqueor still controls CTs loaded with con- 
quered population. 

7.2.9 Changed so that 10 million or more 
colonists must be destroyed on a planet to ren- 
der it uninhabitable. 

8.4.6 Deleted so that a CET Colony Transport 
costs one IU of output, the same as a non-CET 
CT. 

9.2.5.2 In following example it is made clear 
that NT is the predecessor development for 
AITandRIU. 

9.6 The with predecessor development cost of 
CET is lowered from 30 I U to 25 IU. 

11.0 A note is added that invites gamers to 
create their own negotiation rules if they 
don't like the "negotiation" rule. 

12.0 TOURNAMENT SCENARIOS 

Since 1974 STELLAR CONQUEST has become 
a tournament favorite at gaming and science 
fiction conventions. The most successful 
format for tournaments has included a few 
rules modifications and the use of different 
starting scenarios. Those familiar with STEL- 
LAR CONQUEST will find a new challenge 
in these variations. 



Three Player Scenarios: Often there are not 
four players available. Three player scenarios 
use only half the map and provide very compe- 
titive play. The density of stars is 50% greater 
than a four player game and starting positions 
are closer. The dividing line on the map is be- 
tween Canopus and Draconis. Canopus and Hy- 
drae are on one half of the map and Mizar, Cru- 
cis, Draconis and Zosca are on the other half of 
the map. 

Instead of starting at the entry hexes, players 
start their fleets directly on a star. In this 
instance Canopus is treated as a G class star 
and matched with Can is and Ceti as the three 
starting positions on one half of the map. 
Draconis, Bootis and Scorpii are the starting 
stars on the other half of the map. 

Four Player Scenarios: These scenarios also 
have players starting their fleets intact on a G 



class star. The different starting positions 
are as follows: 

A. Scorpii, Ceti, Canis, and Bootis 

B. Dubhe, Alcor, Diphda, and Tauri 

C. Dubhe, Aurigae, Diphda, and Schedar 

D. Aurigae, Lyrae, Capella, and Spica 

Another effective scenario is the Nova scenario. 
Each player starts his fleet on Draconis. On 
turn one Draconis goes Nova and each player 
must immediately move away. At the end of 
turn two, any ship on Draconis or a hex adja- 
cent to Draconis is automatically destroyed. 
The rule for having no ship more than eight 
hexes away from a base should not go into 
effect until after turn six is over. 

Another variation of the Nova scenario has the 
Draconis system have an MT 40 NM planet 
emerge at the start of turn twenty. In this 
instance ships are destroyed through the end 
of turn nineteen on or adjacent to Draconis. 
Ships may move to Draconis on turn twenty 
and thereafter. 

Tournament Considerations: All the scenarios 
in this section are suitable for competitive play. 
Varying starting positions give players a new 
challenge. Starting on a star makes for faster 
play. Listed below are some other rules that 
have been used successfully in tournaments. 

1. Let each player start the game with a 
60 million or 80 million limit TR planet 
at his starting star. This avoids uneven 
starts due to players not finding a TR 
planet early. 

2. Let players start the game with a three 
hex ship movement instead of a two 
hex ship movement. 

3. Have games run for 36 year/turn instead 
of 40. With fast starting games this 
saves time and retains play balance. 

4. Allow negotiation between between 
players. This can be limited to situations 
where both players have ships on the 
same star hex. Negotiations should be 
limited to being the first activity in a 
player's turn. 

Player Conduct: An enjoyable STELLAR 
CONQUEST tournament takes advance pre- 
paration by the tournament master. It also 
requires cooperation of players and non-players 
in their conduct of play. Players should be 



6 



allowed room and quiet sufficient for necessary 
concentration. The following conduct guide- 
lines have been used successfully in tourna- 
ments. 

1. Players must announce when they have 
finished their turn and be ready to start 
their turn when it becomes their turn. 

2. Players may take breaks as needed pro- 
vided they are ready to play when it 
becomes their turn. 

3. Players may agree to take breaks simul- 
taneously after Production Years. 

4. Non-players and players may not con- 
verse at the play table while play is in 
progress. 

5. Spectators should not be allowed to 
crowd around tables during play. The 
play tables may even be roped off or 
otherwise partially isolated. Spectators 
should be able to get a view of play. 

6. Players should not talk to other players 
while conducting their moves. 

7. A player's score for a game should be 
entered on his Turn Sheet and be ini- 
tialed by the other players in the game. 
Turn Sheets for completed games should 
be turned into the tournament master 




9. 



after each game. 

An orientation period should be held for 
all players before the tournament starts. 
Players should be allowed to ask ques- 
tions then and during play when it is not 
their turn. 

The tournament master should reserve 
the right to interpret all rules and stand 
by his ruling as final. Players who do 
not conform ot the rules of the tourna- 
ment should be disqualified from play if 



deemed necessary. For minor violations 
it may be sufficient to deduct points 
from a player's game score. 
lO.Tournament rounds should always start 
on time. Those late should be allowed 
to miss their moves. Those more than an 
hour late should be disqualified from 
further play in that game and given a 
zero score. 



SOME STRATEGIES FOR STELLAR CONQUEST 



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POPULATION SHUTTLE 





INIMICAL WAYS TO PLAY 
STELLAR CONQUEST 



This article is going to look at operational 
parameters in the basic STELLAR CONQUEST 
tournament game. These parameters were 
applied to all games during several tournaments, 
in one form or another, regardless of rule 
changes or start-point changes. The basic 
tournament game rules were published in 
TSG no. 10 and are detailed in this issue. 
The major changes in standard rules were as 
follows: 

1) All players started in their corners with 
Terran 80 Systems, thirty-five million 
people, four Escorts, and twenty-five 
Industrial Units to spend. 

2) Game procedure was changed to grow 
population, then build. 

3) Planetary Force Screens were priced 
high enough to be unreachable, but 
Super Missile Bases were added to 
counter Dreadnaughts. 

4) All Subterran Naturally Metalized Sys- 
tems were removed from the game. 

Also in the same TSG no. 10 article were 
the operational concepts of "GM-ing" (General 
Motors-ing), Population Shuffle, Starburst, 
Grapevine, and Crispy Critter*. It was a very 
interesting and useful article, however, every 
one of the aforementioned concepts has its 
major faults. Specifically, they consistently 
lose in a game with experienced and competent 
players. 

Under tournament rules, the Population 
Shuffle is not as good as it looks. The chart 
no. 1 shows growth rather than shuffle is more 
productive, and it is substantially more cost 
effective. With growth, the player has the 
Industrial Units available at a certain location 
to build a Dreadnaught; while with Shuffle at 
the same point in population growth, the total 
is spread out such that on standard Terran 
Systems, the player must purchase lesser units. 

"GM-ing" requires that other players do 
not attack the subject prior to the completion 
of a definite build period. To gamble on that 
is to flip a one-sided coin. 

In reality, the Starburst concept is wonder- 
ful without reservation. The only catch to 
being successful is survival and strength. With 
that as a controlling factor, this becomes an 
end-game consideration, rather than a midgame 
strategy. If the game progresses along fairly 
standard lines of conflict, Starburst usually 
does not fit in. It is not needed, useful, or 
cost effective. Simply eliminating all other 
competition is more productive, more certain, 
and generally, quicker. 



James G. Branaum 



s5s& 




Initially, Grapevine seems to be a great 
way to insure a victory, or at least a second 
place; however, in a reasonably standard game, 
Grapevining is an invitation to disaster. The 
potential of an opponent becoming very strong 
very early in the game is so great that Grapevine 
just becomes a different way to slow him down, 
and usually not very well at that. The way to 
avoid this appears to be larger colonies with 
Missile Bases, or Advanced Missile Bases. 
This change significantly lowers the effective- 
ness of the Grapevine concept, and severely 
damages the player's ability for on-site produc- 
tion. 

The initial Crispy Critter concept is great; 
however, unmodified, it is an unqualified 
disaster when used against a competent player. 
The danger is in the viability of the ranging 
colony, once the player's Task Force is out 
of range of the home planet. If the opponent 
fries the ranging planet population, the Task 
Force is eliminated, the home planet unprotect- 
ed, and the opponent has a distinct industrial 
advantage immediately, without having to 
take any other action. Nevertheless, there is an 
important lesson which should be learned, 
used, and lived with. Speed kills, and this 
whole concept is based on speed of action. 
However, there is also the consideration that 
vacillation is suicide. 

Improved versions of Crispy Critter are 
simple to work out, effective, less risky, and 
generally, psychologically devastating to the 
opponent. They shall be dealt with later. 

STELLAR CONQUEST is more than just 
a 'war' game, and it is more than a game in 
economics. It is actually a study in applied 



MtU^* 



logistics. The pervading concept is to "get 
there the fastest with the mostest." It has 
already been demonstrated that the Population 
Shuffle is not worthwhile in this consideration 
early in the game, with or without Naturally 
Metalized Planets. Early development of any 
Naturally Metalized System is now worthwhile 
when the gains in population by simple growth 
are compared to that total Industrial Unit 
availability at any point in time prior to about 
the twentieth turn in the game. After the 
twentieth turn, the Shuffle is much more 
productive, especially at minimum Terran 
Naturally Metalized Systems. 

To effect the capture of those population 
centers, one may be interested in using Crispy 
Critter as a tactic. As shown earlier, that does 
have definite pitfalls. Avoiding those pitfalls 
is what some of the improvements do, without 
excessively increasing the risk of failure, or 
leaving the player open to other attacks. An 
interesting improvement is to buy two, rather 
than three escorts; and nine, rather than one 
Colony Transport. This enables the player to 
build the extra Escort which would have been 
bought, otherwise, at the Advance Base; and 
protects that base by sheer numberical strength 
in population. If one Colony Transport is 
purchased at the Advance Base and sent to a 
nearby system, it decreases the probability 
of losing the attacking group because of ranging 
planet elimination by two different methods. 
The only problem with this sytem is the possi- 
bility of phenomenally poor die rolls. Poor 
die rolls can totally eliminate the surprise, 
strength, and viability of the whole tactic. 
To avoid the effects of those die rolls, the same 



I") These concepts are reviewed in The Summary of this article. 



8 



A SUMMARY OF POPULAR STELLAR CONQUEST TOURNAMENT STRATEGIES AND TACTICS 

*CRISPY CRITTER: Initial IU points are spent on Escorts. These, combined with the four original Escorts and one to 

three Colony Transports in a Task Force, are immediately sent against the nearest opponent, dropping one million colonies 

along the way in order to lengthen the Escort's range. 
DELA YED CRISPER: The warship construction started in Entrenched Critter is continued until an attack can be launched 

en masse. 
DREADNAUGHT CRISPER: All effort is devoted to buying a Dreadnaught on Turn 12, and that Dreadnaught is then 

launched against an Escort-armed opponent. 
*DUSTER: An attack squadron or a Dreadnaught is kept in the home area to intercept Scouts or Escorts before they can 

visit the inner systems. 
ENTRENCHED CRITTER: This popular defense against Crispy Critter consists of buying missile defenses and/or warships 

early in the game and then staying on your home world. An attacking Crisper must live at the end of his supply line 

while you stay on your source and outnumber him. 
EXODUS: At the start of the game most of the home world population is exported, leaving only enough to build Missile 

Bases. 
*"GM-ing" OR "GENERAL MOTORS": (used in conjunction with the Population Shuttle and a slow Grapevine.) As much 

industry as possible is used to build more industry. Colonies on Minimum Terran Naturally Metalized worlds are the 

ultimate tournament version of this. 
*GRAPEVINE: In the last half of the game, small colonies (four million for an ST and five million for a TR) are spread 

over all available TR's and ST's. Most of these colonies cannot be found and conquered before the end of the game. 

Note that the TR colonies will grow, and can build Missile Bases. 
IMPROVED CRISPY CRITTER (ICC): Similar to the original, except that the initial IU points are spent for two Escorts 

and nine Colony Transports. These, along with the original Escorts in a Task Force, move to a staging world on your 

border. A colony of nine million cannot be easily destroyed, and can produce front line units while the home world 

reinforces the colony. This usually is combined with Scout Diversions, Trip Wire, Duster, and String Cutter. 
OPERATION QUICK STRIKE (3-way Critter): The short board opponent is attacked, using ICC. Your own industry 

sends Escorts to maintain control over your conquests, while industry is used to buy longer range and warships. These 

capture-produced warships are launched against the short board opponent's long board opponent. Capture of the second 

opponent will usually provide the industry to defeat the third opponent. 
POPULATION SHUTTLE: Every fourth year, two TR or ST colonized worlds within eight hexes of one another ship each 

other their population growth plus enough of their own population to get an optimum emigration bonus. This is a straight 

trade of IU output for population gain. 
SCOUT DIVERSIONS: Scouts with an occasional warship are launched against opponents in order to keep them off-balance 

while other Scouts fake colonization and shuttle missions. 
'STARBURST (A variant of Grapevine): Multiple Escorts are built at dispersed points and hidden in Task Forces up to the 

36th turn in the game. On Turn 37, the Task Forces are broken down into individual Escorts which are spread over all 

available ST's and TR's. While these are more visible than "Grapevine" colonies, Escorts can fight back and can capture 

unguarded colonies. 
STRING CUTTER: A warship, often posing as a Scout, sits in a Trip Wire position until an enemy attack starts. The cutter 

then moves against the staging world of the enemy attack. 
*TRIP WIRE: Border defending warships are parked over an unusable system as if it is a colony. Attacking warships will 

strike there first, allowing real colonies time to react. 

* Excerpted from Shayne Gad's excellent article in THE SPACE GAMER, No. 10. 



CHART NO. 1 







TURIN 






TOTAL IU 


HE POPULATION SHUTTLE 





4 8 


12 


16 


OUTPUT 


GROWTH (1 TR80): 












Population 


35 


35 42 


50 


60 




Growth 


— 


7 8 


10 


12 




Total IU Output Per Turn 


25 


42 50 


60 


72 


249 



SHUTTLE (1 TR 80, and assuming immediate discovery of another TR 80): 



Home World Population 


25 


25 


28 


36 


42 


Growth and Imports 




5 


5 


7 


8 


Exports 


10 


6 


6 


9 


9 


(Plus In-transit Growth) 


— 


(2) 


(2) 


(3) 


(3) 


Home World Total IU Output 


15 


24 


26 


34 


41 


World No. 2 Population 





10 


15 


20 


30 


Growth and Imports 


— 


2 


3 


4 


6 


Exports 


—- 


3 


6 


6 


9 


(Plus In-transit Growth) 


— 


1 


2 


2 


3 


World No. 2 Total IU Output 





7 


12 


18 


27 


Total IU Output Per Turn 


15 


31 


38 


52 


68 



204 



CHART No. 2 



SINGLE WORLD GROWTH VS. COLONIZATION OF A BARREN 
NATURALLY METALIZED WORLD 



TURN 
4 8 



GROWTH: See Single World Growth Plan in Chart No. 1 
BRNM (1 TR 80, and assuming immediate discovery of 

a 20 million BRNM and Initial Purchase of Controlled 

Environmental Technology 



12 16 



TOTAL IU 
OUTPUT 

249 



Home World Population 


35 


35 


35 


35 


40 


Growth 


— 


7 


7 


7 


8 


Exports 


_. 


7 


7 


2 





(Plus In-transit Growth) 


... 


(2) 


(2) 




— 


CET Costs 


25 


14 


9 


4 





Home World Total IU Output 





21 


26 


36 


48 


BRNM 20 Million Population 











9 


18 


Imports 


— 


- 


9 


9 


2 


Total Population 


_. 


- 


9 


18 


20 



BRNM Total IU Output 



21 



44 



72 



88 



225 



CHART No. 3 

CAPTURE OF SHORT BOARD OPPONENT VS. COLONIZATION OF 
TWO 40 MILLION MINIMUM TERRAN NATURALLY METALIZED WORLDS 

TURN TOTAL IU 

8 12 16 20 24 OUTPUT 

CAPTURE: 

Player No. 1 Total Population/IU 
(under Growth Plan, assuming 
colonization of TR 60 on 
Turn 22) 



50 60 72 80 86 



Player No. 4 Usable Population/IU 
captured by Player No. 1 on 
Turn 7 

Total IU Output Per Turn 



50 50 50 50 
SO 110 122 130 136 548 



MINM: 



Player No. 2, assuming growth 
until dual colonization on 
Turn 9 



Home World Population 


30 


30 


33 


30 


30 


Growth 


- 


6 


6 


6 


6 


Exports 


~ 


3 


9 


6 


6 


(Plus In-transit Growth) 


- 


(1) 


(3) 


(2) 


(2) 


Home Total IU Output 


30 


33 


30 


30 


30 


MTNM-40 No. 1 Population 





10 


14 


14 


22 


IU Output 





20 


28 


28 


44 


MTNM 40 No. 2 Population 





10 


10 


22 


22 


IU Output 





20 


20 


44 


44 



Total IU Output Per Turn 



30 



73 78 102 118 



401 



type of tactic is used with Dreadnaughts rather 
than Escorts. The hitch here is that the player 
must stall his opponent into not taking the 
offensive, and not thinking defensively enough 
to build Dreadnaughts. One interesting way 
of doing this is to purchase a few extra Scouts, 
and send them to the opponent's home planet. 
To really confuse the issue, send an Escort 
after two or three Scouts. Timed properly, 
this should completely unsettle the opponent. 
This system works even better if followed 
with a couple of more Scouts, and then a pair 
of Escorts, timed to hit his home planet just 
after he should have launched a massive Escort 
fleet to stop you from building Dreadnaughts. 
This system gives you a wealth of data on 
his activity during the interim, and either 
slows or stops his attempted assaults in your 
direction. 

In the event you capture a population group 
you cannot hold or do not want to because of 
its small size, burn as much of the group as 
possible. This will further unsettle the oppo- 
nent, and, if you are lucky, it will enrage him 
to the point of gross carelessness. In addition 
to these benefits, there is further gain, and that 
is the extensive damage you have done to the 
opponent's production, growth, and general 
battle plans. If, however, the player using this 
tactic can hold the center involved, and it is 
of substantial size, it makes a great addition 
to his industrial production. 

Up to this point, the short board opponent 
has been the intended victim. Assuming that 
the player has been successful in capturing the 
major population centers of his short board 
opponent, he should initiate Operation Quick 
Strike. Operation Quick Strike is an immediate 
90 degree turn to the captured short board 
player's long board opponent, and attack on 
that opponent with all available warships. 
This makes for a very short game as the fourth 
player will usually capitulate. If not, another 
90 degree turn and Operation Quick Strike 
is in order. Failure to do so may give the 
fourth player enough time to "GM" you to 

death. 

It should be noted that these tactics must 
be changed to fit the player, the player's 
situation, and the specific rules used. The 
strategic considerations generally remain con- 
stant unless major revisions are made in the 
rules of play. Other than attempting to remain 
totally unpredictable, these are the major 
operational parameters that generally increase 
a player's probability of a win. 

Jim Branaum 

Research and Development Department 

Charts and editing by the BLOODTHIRSTY 
UNDESIRABLE GAMING SOCIETY 
(B.U.G.S.) General Staff: 

Doug Anderson (Stellar Conquistador) 

Bob Blair (The Blob) 

Bruce Mickelson (The Armchair Admiral) 

Dr. Bob Polzin (Dr. Bob) 

Corwyn Prater (Corwyn of Amber) 

David Ray (Heavy Weapons) 



10 




EXPANDING YOUR 
STELLAR CONQUESTS 



BY 

Frank 6. Weir Jr. 



My forte in wargaming has been the ability 
to conduct an offensive with one hand tied 
behind my back, supposedly leaving me out 
numbered and on defense. 

First, I believe firmly in the old adage of a 
good offense being the best defense, especially 
when the steps you take to gain offensive 
power can provide a good defense, as often 
happens in STELLAR CONQUEST (SO. 

Although running a war cheaply is seldom 
a factor in real life, it is very important in 
STELLAR CONQUEST. You must use the 
smallest fleet and least defenses, but still win 
the battles you have to win. After all, SC is 
a game of economics. The main goal of war 
is simple Industrial Unit (IU) attrition. 

The cheapest way of gaining I Us is colo- 
nization. Colonization leads to a wide spread 
of colony planets. Building missile bases on all 
these colonies is expensive, duplicative, and 
wasteful. The best defense is a central fleet. 
The best way for this fleet to work is in quick 
counter-offensives, knocking out enemy ship 
base before the ships arrive at a planet which 
leaves them more than eight hexes away from 
a base, thus eliminating them. 

These three concepts, colonization, central 
fleet, and counter-attack, are greatly enhanced 
by superior movement capacity. Your Colony 



Transports (CTs) don't waste production years 
in transit, your central fleet can arrive before 
the enemy, and a faster fleet has an easier time 
ripping off enemy bases. 

There is no good reason to move slowly 
in STELLAR CONQUEST. Ship movement 
is cheap and adventageous. You can start the 
game at 3 MA (Ship Movement). From there 
I follow a Technological Development schedule 
something like this: Improved Industrial 
Technology (NT) (followed by industrializa- 
tion). Attack Ships (ATK), Dreadnaughts (DN) 
(big push for latter about the time I IT is top- 
ping out), then 5 MA (ship movement allow- 
ance). Unlimited Ship Range (USR), with 
Robotic Industrial Units (RIU) following 
as quickly as possible. Main emphasis then 
switches to industry, though leftovers may go 
for Improved Ship Weapons (ISW) and 8 MA 
(ship movement allowance). The end of the 
game sees unrestricted ship building. 

The big controversy among players here is 
the decision to go ATK instead of Missile Base 
(MB). First, ATK-DN is 5 IU cheaper than 
MB-DN in Technological Development Cost. 
You do have to achieve level one technology, 
but no one says you have to build the junk. 
Of course, this is not to say I don't build ATKs. 

What's so hot about missile bases? Two 



for the price of one ship? Hardly. Your first 
six MBs cost 49 I U, your first six Escorts (ESC) 
cost 48. Unless you are playing some sort of 
hawk, 10 ESC ought to be able to handle 
all your defense and offense until Dreadnaughts 
(DNs) are built. Six MBs and 4 ESC are barely 
enough to provide a weak defense, with no 
offense. Sure, you could build more MBs, 
but the idea is to have a cheap fleet. 

Why build Attacks (ATK)? They cost 
as much as 2.5 ESC, but are worth only 2.4. It 
takes three to match a DN, but you only get 
two for the price. I won't count research 
because DNs are necessary, and ATK techno- 
logy is a necessary evil of DNs. I will note 
here, however, that the ATK does rule supreme 
for a large portion of the game, before the DNs 
horn in. 

Well, until DNs are built, you use ATKs 
to attack. If you don't like the odds, attack 
somewhere else. Now, an ATK is worth exactly 
2.4 ESC only when it meets exactly 2.4 ESC 
and fights to the death, in other words, rarely. 
How many times do you see a single ESC 
running around? Quite often. Encountered 
singly, an ATK can take out four ESC before 
it finally goes down. If it takes on two pair, 
one after the other, it can kill three ESC. 
Double up your ATKs and things really begin 



11 



to look good. They can take out 12 ESC one 
at a time before both are destroyed by return 
fire, or 3JS pair, or two three-packs, or tackle 
four with only a single casuality. All these 
are favorable attrition. The ATK is concentra- 
ted power that stays that way, often gaining 
the upper-hand in battle. 

Of course, the best way to get favorable 
attrition is to take or destroy something while 
losing nothing, like shooting MBs (ESCs won't 
stand still) with DNs; or shooting population 
with ATKs (IU for IU, they do this the best). 



You can't get lU-greedy. You could buy a 
constant output of two IU per production 
year for the expenditure of 1 ESC, which is the 
minimum needed to control a conquered 
colony. It's worth that. Trouble is, the other 
player might want his colony back. One thing 
a small fleet cannot support is full fledged war. 
What's really wasteful is losing ships shooting 
up other ships and defenses, and then not 
having anything to show for it because your 
opponent recaptured the planet. Burning 
population is a good way to damage your 
opponent's industry, and we're talking lUs 
per production year, not just I Us. This tactic 
verges on the dastardly when you're dealing 
with NT, Advanced Industrial Technology 
(AIT) or a Natural Metallized (NM) planet. 

Since I use USR as a stepping stone to RIU, 
many crippling attacks can be made deep in the 
enemy's rear areas. Although my fleet is 
usually smaller than the defending fleet, it is 
also usually faster. It can out maneuver a 
larger fleet and pounce on a couple of ships 
or a totally undefended planet and go to 
work. Of course, I usually get interrupted 
by defenders, which is when I take off and nail 
another planet. 

If you don't have USR or forward colonies, 
you can still attack the enemy's rear using a 
bridge. A bridge is 1 million people put on a 
planet for the sole purpose of extending ship 
range. The quickest bridges are pretty obvious, 
from yellow star to yellow star: Scorpii-Dubhe- 
Bootis-Tauri-Schedar-Canis-Diphda-Deti-Alcor- 
Aurigae-Scorpii. A bridge is easy to cut, if you 
know where it is, but if the attackers grab a 
colony, they have a ship base right there. 

To prevent a raiding bridge you can create 
a moat. With a single ESC and a fleet of CTs 
go about building all possible bridge links 
from their worlds to yours, and then fry the 
1 million people with the ESC, leaving an 
uninhabitable void too wide for ships to cross 
while maintaining normal ship range. (New 
SC rules make this a more expensive stra- 
tegy. Ed.) Another use of this is to set it up on 
the long side of the board in a four player 
game. Use distance and gas clouds as protec- 
tion from the player sitting opposite corner 
from you and then mount a full scale attack 
against the player across the short side of the 
board. Such a maneuver may well give you a 
large colony base early in the game, though 
you'll have to maintain a military stance for 
the remainder of the game to protect it. 



One other thing you can do with unwanted 
civilians is to put their CTs in with the rest of 
your fleet. While the enemy is shooting them 
up, you can be blasting away at their warships, 
and he'll be calling you an idiot for exposing 
your transports to fire. 

The theory of this strategy is that you can 
concentrate on early industrialization using 
mobility to prevent hawks from crushing you 
in the first few turns. In addition, other 
industrialists will have to distract some from 
their industry for defense as your constant 
probes threaten a serious attack. In short, 
keep the enemy off-balance while preventing 
him from upsetting your game plan. Once 
you start playing your own game, a victory 
should come easily. 

Minimally Habitable Cluster: A Variant 

This variant was designed to promote 

early war, lower levels of industrializaion, and 

take the emphasis off of NM habitables. It is 

also compatible with the tactical level above. 

The first TR-40, TR-60, or TR-80 a player 



finds becomes his home base, and is treated 
normally. Each player is allowed one, and only 
one, home base, though he must discover 
this planet normally. If he has trouble, he may 
elect to take another planet for his home base, 
though he still only gets one and may not 
switch (ST-60's, MT-40 NMs, and the ST-40 
NM make good alternates). 

All other planets have one change made in 
their star card listing; their maximum habita- 
tion limits are reduced to 25% of the original, 
rounded down. A TR-80 becomes a TR-20, 
an MT-10 becomes an MT-2, a BR-20 NM 
becomes a BR -5 NM, etc. 

The maximum defenses a planet may use 
are set at one AMB and four MB per one 
million inhabitants. PFS's may be used in 
addition to this on any planet. 

This type of game is usually played to the 
death, but can be played to a time limit (I 
suggest 60 turns, due to the slower evolution 
of industry). Figure the winner normally, 
except that home planets count triple what 
they normally would. 




12 



Order out of chaoS 

Benefit Cost Analysis in Wargaming 



by 

Glenn L. Williams 



War has always been chaotic. It has always 
been risky. But the chaos of modern war 
threatens national survival. The complexity 
and consequences of military decisions have 
caused military leadership to evolve into 
military managership. By analysis and plan- 
ning, through compromise if need be, mili- 
tary managers now seek to bring order out of 
chaos and reduce the risks of their decisions. 
With the additional challenge of limited bud- 
gets, military managers have to make sure they 
get the "best bang for the buck". One tool to 
help them face these challenges is benefit-cost 
analysis. When faced with alternative weapons 
systems, the planner compares ratios between 
the benefits and the costs for each of the 
possibilities, looking for the most cost-effective. 
In the 1960s, the controversial TFX fighter 
project (today the Air Force's F-111), was a 
pioneer example of this technique. Today it 
is common. 

Wargames can be used to illustrate the basic 
methods of benefit cost analysis. Even generals 
whose only theater of war is a paper map and 
whose armies are cardboard cutouts can use it 
to examine the games they play. In this article 
I intend to show how this can be done using 
recent, inexpensive wargames as examples. 

The basic idea is to create a ratio between 
what something does and what it costs, to 
insure you get the biggest bang for the buck. 
The various factors which need to be con- 
sidered in that decision are quantified to the 
greatest extent possible. Quantifying variables 
allows the analyst to compare apples and oran- 
ges. Both are converted to a more abstract 
concept, "fruit": the ratio between benefits 
and costs. Eventually, the decision maker 
looks at mathematical models of the alterna- 
tives. Critics of the technique argue that 
the ratio can be too simple, that it muddles 
the fine details and ignores those which do 
not reduce to numbers. The result, they say, 
obliterates important distinctions between com- 
peting alternatives and substitutes an imperfect 
method for experience. 

A simplified version of the process consists 
of several steps: 

1. Define the objectives precisely. The 
definitions should be complete enough that the 
analysis flows directly from them. 

2. List each alternative that will accomplish 
the objectives. 

3. For each alternative, list the benefits 
it will provide. As much as possible, these 
benefits should be expressed in numerical form 



to help the analyst. Sometimes, measuring the 
benefits is more complex than estimating 
kiloton yields of various ICBM warheads. For 
example, how can an analyst even begin to 
quantify the benefit derived when a nuclear 
aircraft carrier "shows the flag" in a foreign 
port? What is the psychological benefit of a 
Minuteman III missile in a newly hardened 
silo? Sometimes, the numbers hide the fact 
that two different things are being measured 
along two different scales which do not directly 
correlate to. each other. 

4. Discover all the relevant costs for each 
alternative. These include not only production 
and purchase costs, but repair and upkeep over 
the life of the system. There are also "oppor- 
tunity costs"; in buying one thing, the pur- 
chaser has lost an opportunity to buy some- 
thing else. Money spent on an MX missile 
system, for example, is not available if there 
is a sudden need to fund fusion power research. 
Some costs, as some benefits, cannot be re- 
duced to numbers. An example is the "spill 
over" effect, a term used for side effects 
not directly related to the problem at hand. 
American politicians who make military con- 
tract decisions with an eye toward future 
elections are considering this effect. We may 
not agree with such costs, or the weight given 
them, but they are real costs within the con- 
text of the decision process. 

5. Examine the constraints or limits on the 
decision. In wargaming terms, this means 
the player must carefully read the rules, noting 
such things as terrain effects and stacking 
limits. In a strategic nuclear context, one 
constraint is the American policy decisions 
should not appear to be aggressive. That 
constraint limits some alternative deployments 
for ICBMs, and recently was an issue in the 
SALT negotiations as the Soviets questioned 
our Shuttle program. 

6. Devise a mathematical model of the 
benefits and costs which yields a simple ratio 
for each of the alternatives. The model-making 

process actually begins with step 1, and is 
refined at this step. One important feature of 
the model is explicit. The quality of an analysis 
depends directly upon the assumptions that 
underlie it - that were used to simplify the 
mass of data, parameters, etc. the analyst had 
to distill. Too often, the assumptions found on 
page one are the facts of page three, and the 
"too difficult to analyze" becomes "trivial" 
a few pages later. 

7. Select the alternative with the highest 



ratio of benefits to costs. Having made that 
choice, the analyst often looks over the ranking 
to see if it also makes intuitive sense. A very 
precise analysis can lead to a very precise 
wrong answer. 

8. Test the selection. A technique fre- 
quently used is "sensitivity analysis". The 
assumptions are changed to see how sensitive 
the outcome is to those changes. 

As a beginning exercise, consider a rela- 
tively simple game, SPI's "space capsule" 
THE CREATURE THAT ATE SHEBOYGAN. 
In this game, a creature of unknown charac- 
teristics is stomping around the downtown 
area of Sheboygan, Wisconsin, razing buildings 
and scaring the populace. The opposing player 
represents the municipal government attemp- 
ting to bring the creature under control with 
national guard infantry, artillery and tanks, 
plus the police with their cruisers and heli- 
copters. The objective for the human player 
is straight forward: kill the creature before it 
destroys a specified number of buildings and 
people. The human player knows only that 
the creature has a fixed number of points to 
allocate among: 1) movement; 2) attack; 
3) defense; 4) building destruction; and 5) spe- 
cial abilities such as fire breathing, flying, net 
weaving or great height. The actual allocation 
is discovered the hard way, in battle when the 
creature uses the ability. 

Human units have three characteristics: 
1) combat strength; 2) range of weapons; and 
3) movement allowance. The human player, 
like the creature, is given a set number of 
points with which to purchase a suitable force 
to oppose the monster. The cost of each unit 
is its combat strength. A police cruiser with a 
combat strength of one costs one, a national 
guard tank with a combat strength of six 
costs six. Table One lists the human units 
and their characteristics. Since human units 
also have special abilities, these need to be 
mentioned: Police can move populace counters 
at a higher than normal movement rate. Heli- 
copters pay no terrain costs. National guard 
infantry may make suicide close assaults at 
double strength. 

In game terms, the creature's defense 
strength must be reduced to zero. There is no 
Fabian strategy of retreat in this game, only 
combat will achieve the objectives. The beast 
enters from a pre-selected map edge which is 
not known to the human when he deploys. 
The assumptions of our model are that combat 



13 



strength and mobility are equally important, 
since the human units do not know from where 
the attack will come. A second assumption is 
that special abilities are of minor importance 
(a simplifying but dangerous assumption). A 
third assumption, which will be changed later, 
is that range initially has no value. 

The creature's objective is to amass victory 
points. It receives 3 points for each low build- 
ing, 5 for each high building, 5 for each populace, 
and one for each human combat strength point 
it destroys. 

Now let us insert what we know into the 
benefit cost analysis process: 

1. The objective is to kill a creature which 
can enter from any direction. 

2. The alternatives are the various types 
of units which may be purchased. 

3. Benefits are the unit characteristics 
printed on the counters and listed in Table 
One. Special abilities are ignored for the 
present. 

4. Cost is equal to the unit combat strength. 

5. The constraints (other than the rules 
themselves) are the limit to the number of 
combat points available for purchase. 

6. The mathematical model for these 
units is shown in formula no. 1 . 

7. Table one shows the computed ratios 
for this simple model. The higher the ratio, 
the more cost-effective the unit is. 

8. Following this analysis, the player 
would first buy police helicopters, then police 
cars, then national guard infantry, followed 
by tanks and finally, artillery. However, there 
are two obvious flaws in this analysis. First, 
the effects of range were assumed away. In the 
game's combat system, a unit attacking with 
ranged combat ignores adverse combat results. 
In addition, range can offset some of the crea- 
ture's mobility. Second, an important con- 
straint of the game rules is the stacking limit 
of two units per block. A force composed 
entirely of police cars could never bring enough 
force to bear to destroy the creature before 
it did its damage. 

To illustrate how altering the assumptions 
or the model changes the analysis, consider one 
change: combat ability can be expressed as 
the product of combat strength and range. 
That change alters the cost benefit ratios. 
The new formula is shown in formula no. 2. 
Table One shows these new ratios in parenthe- 
ses next to the old ratios. The analysis now 
reflects the adage that discretion is the better 
part of valor: with mobility and the ability 
to strike from outside the creature's grasp, 
units are more powerful and a little safer. 
Because of their movement and low combat 
strength, helicopters are still a very good buy. 
This type of change to test the model is called 
"sensitivity analysis", and this model was 
obviously very sensitive to changes. This is 
shown very well in the dramatic change in 
value for the national guard artillery unit. 
Assumptions, thus, are crucial. That is why 
they must be made explicit. The analysis could 
be extended by taking into account special 
abilities, terrain effects on movement and 
combat, and line of sight, which reduces the 
value of ranged combat by limiting it. 

Most games are not as simple as CREATURE, 
and even that game is not as simple as the 



FORMULA ONE 




Benefit Cost R 


atio = Combat Strength + Movement Allowance 


Combat Strength 


FORMULA TWO 




Cost Effectiveness 


- (Combat Strength x Range) + Movement Allowance 


Combat Strength 


TABLE ONE 


THE CREATURE THAT ATE SHEBOYGAN 


Unit 


Combat Movement Cost 


Type 


Strength Range Allowance Effectiveness 


Helicopter 
Police Car 
Nat'l Guard Inf 
Nat'l Guard Tanks 
Nat'l Guard Arty 


1 2 7 8.0 (9.0) 
1 1 3 4.0(4.0) 
3 1 3 2.0 (2.0) 
6 2 5 1.8(2.8) 
5 6 2 1.4(6.4) 


FORMULA THREE 




Cost Effectiveness = 


Versatility x (Combat Strength + Movement + Conversion) 


Unit Cost 



preceding illustration. Special abilities can be 
extremely hard to quantify, yet have a major 
impact on the relative values of units. Very 
often such unique effects are found in the 
terrain rules, particularly noticeable in games 
which impose varying costs for infantry and 
armor to enter the same terrain. Sometimes 
the effects are extraordinarily complex, such as 
the ability of Warp Line Generators in HOLY 
WAR to create new paths of rapid movement 
for other units in the game. One game where 
these effects are treated very well is ICE WAR, 
with its terrain conversion feature. 

Recently, an issue of TSG carried an article 
using elementary benefit cost analysis in 
examining alternative tactics and relative unit 
values in ICE WAR. One feature of the game 
noted in the article but not directly incor- 
porated into the author's model, was terrain 
conversion. ICE WAR simulates a raid on the 
Alaskan oilfields near Deadhorse from across 
the polar ice. Units are sleds (big snowmobiles), 
hovercraft, and more conventional infantry, 
tanks, and VERTOL transports. The game 
also incorporates orbiting surveillance and 
weapons systems. Since the game assumes 
widespread use of tactical nuclear weapons 
in a frozen environment, floes of ice and 
tundra may melt, changing their terrain charac- 
ter. This feature is terrain conversion. Ice 
becomes open water, tundra becomes mud. 

The victory conditions for the invading 
ESA player depend solely on the number of 
oilwells he can destroy. For the defending 
American player, the objective is to limit the 
damage. Oilwells are destroyed by converting 



the terrain of their hex. There are no victory 
points for destroying enemy units, nor is there 
a time limit which either player must race 
against. 

Terrain conversion is a side effect of combat, 
and has three uses in the game: 1) it is the 
only means by which the oilwells can be 
destroyed; 2) unfavorable attacks can be 
converted to favorable attacks if the defending 
unit is especially sensitive to such changes 
(such as infantry caught on melting ice); and 
3) conversion can limit the mobility of an ene- 
my force and channel its attacks, particularly 
when the force is sled-heavy. 

There are four attributes to measure for 
each ICE WAR unit: 1) combat strength; 
2) movement allowance; 3) the ability to 
convert terrain; and 4) the effect conversion 
has on the unit's ability to move and fight. 
I call this last attribute "versatility." 

The objectives of the game require terrain 
conversion be a feature of the model we build. 
Assumptions relating the benefits and costs 
also need to be specified. The first assumption 
is that each attribute is of equal importance. 
This assumption is necessary because the 
player assembles his force with only a slight 
knowledge of the nature of his opposition. 
In the face of uncertainty, each factor is 
assumed to have equal weight until proven 
otherwise by experience. Second, while com- 
bat strength, mobility and the ability to convert 
terrain are directly measurable (from the coun- 
ter itself or by inspection of the terrain conver- 
sion table), versatility is a modifier of the 
other three. The simplest way to modify them 



14 



TABLE TWO 


ICE WAR 


: UNIT VERSATILITY 






Unit 
Type 


Effect of Conversion 


Area of Map Area of Ma| 

Before After 
Conversion Conversion 


) Versatility 

(average of 

last two) 


Hovercraft 


No effect 


1.0 


1.0 




1.0 


Sleds 


May not enter water, 
are "stuck" in mud- 
may then only attack 
the surrounding six 
hexes 


1.0 


less than .01 




0.5 


Tanks 


Conversion has no 
effect - before and 
after may only enter 
tundra and mud 


0.2 


0.2 




0.2 


Infantry 


Before conversion may 
enter any hex on the 
map, after only mud 


1.0 


0.2 




0.6 


FORMULA FOUR 










Team C/E = 


rMin Vers x (Sum of Combat + Trans. Mvmt + Team Conv)n + 


Transp 


ort C/E 


I Team 


Cost 


J 


TABLE THREE ICE WAR: COST EFFECTIVENESS RATIOS FOR ESA UNITS 


Unit Type 


Vers. Combat 


Mvmt. 


Conv. Cost 


C/E 


Rank 


Hover Transport 1.0 1.0 


4.0 


1.0 1.0 


6.0 


1 


Light Hover 


1.0 2.0 


6.0 


1.0 2.0 


4.5 


2 


Armored Hover 1.0 3.0 


4.0 


2.0 2.0 


4.5 


2 


Infantry 


0.6 4.0 


1.0 


2.0 1.0 


4.2 


3 


Sled Trans 


0.5 2.0 


4.0 


1.0 1.0 


3.5 


4 


Armored Sled 


0.5 5.0 


4.0 


3.0 2.0 


3.0 


5 


Tank 


0.2 6.0 


3.0 


4.0 2.0 


1.3 


6 



is to find some multiplier that shows the 
general nature of the effect. 

The effect of terrain conversion varies with 
each type of unit. Sleds may not enter a con- 
verted terrain hex, while hovercraft ignore 
conversion completely. Tanks may not enter 
ice or water, but may move through tundra 
or mud. Infantry can enter ice, tundra or mud, 
but not water. One way to measure this 
effect is to count the hexes a unit may enter 
before any hex on the map is converted, then 
express that as a percentage of the total map 
area. Next, count the number of hexes the 
unit could enter or attack if every hex on the 
map were converted, then express that as a 
percentage of the total map area. The versa- 
tility is found by averaging those two percen- 
tages. Table Two shows the versatility for 



each type of unit. Since VERTOLS are not 
combat units, they are not being considered, 
but the technique is the same. 

Terrain conversion as an attribute is not 
readily measurable from the unit counter. 
To arrive at a point value for it, consider the 
highest number on a die roll that would result 
in conversion if the unit were to attack by 
itself. For example, a tank with a combat 
strength of six converts terrain on a roll of one 
through four, so its terrain conversion value 
is four. 

Cost in ICE WAR, unlike in CREATURE, 
is not an expression of combat strength, but an 
abstract measure of relative worth (see the 
Designer's Introduction in TSG 18). It is 
functionally an economic factor since it is 
used to allocate a limited resource -- the fixed 



number of points with which a player may 
build his army. 

All of the features needed to build a mathe- 
matical model of ICE WAR ground combat 
units are now present. Missile sleds and missiles 
are beyond the scope of this analysis, but the 
reader may wish to attempt to add them to 
this model. The model quantifies the unusual 
terrain effects plus the other more conventional 
characteristics. It is more complex than that of 
Tony Watson's analysis in TSG 22, but com- 
plexity comes with a price: the extra effort 
may not yield appreciably superior results. See 
formula no. 3. 

Table Three gives the resulting ratios as well 
as the unit values used to compute them. 
In addition, units are ranked in descending 
order of cost-effectiveness. 

There are two observations that can be 
made about the results in Table 3. First, for 
the invader, tanks and infantry are useless 
without transports. Tanks cannot cross the 
ice, while infantry do so too slowly. Since 
they require a transport, a team approach 
might be more useful. Perhaps we should 
change the assumptions and try to derive 
team cost effectiveness ratios. That would 
expand the definition of a weapons system 
from a single combat unit to a package of units 
which are used together. 

Second, a seemingly weak unit, the hover- 
craft transport, has emerged as the single 
most cost effective unit in the game. Is it 
really a good buy? Sensitivity analysis could 
help examine its relative worth. Since time and 
stacking are not constraints in the game, 
mobility and versatility might not have the 
same weight as combat and conversion capa- 
bility. However, the hover is cheap. It can go 
anywhere, and even a weak unit has a chance 
for conversion. When combined with an effec- 
tive passenger that could help support break- 
throughs and also destroy oilwells, the high 
value of the hover might make more sense. 
Once again, a team approach might be more 
useful. 

The team approach is more complicated 
than simply adding two cost effectiveness 
ratios together. The relationship between two 
parts of a whole is not usually their sum. 
Because the game rules have constraints which 
prohibit combat by a passenger on the turn it 
dismounts, a transport might have to initiate 
a breakthrough or defend by itself. Otherwise, 
combat strength is additive. The terrain conver- 
sion feature is nearly additive, as inspection of 
the chart will show. 

Movement also is not quite so simple as 
addition. A passenger unit may not move 
the turn it dismounts, so mobility is more a 
function of the transport's movement allow- 
ance than the passenger's. Versatility itself 
is no greater than the weakest link in the team. 
All units should be able to join in battle, a 
consequence of the team assumption. The 
final ratio will be the average of team effec- 
tiveness and that of the transport alone (be- 
cause of the turns it might have to move and 
fight unsupported by its passenger). Given 
these assumptions, the model is shown in 
formula no. 4. 



15 



Table Four shows the results of this ap- 
proach. Once again the teams are ranked 
according to cost effectiveness. There are 
four teams shown, the combinations possible 
with two types of transports (sled and hover) 
and two of passengers (tanks and infantry). 
If the reader analyzed VERTOLS, he might 
wish to attempt a similar team computation for 
comparison. 

The low versatility of tanks and sleds 
contributes to their relatively low overall 
effectiveness. Assuming hovers and infantry 
are teamed, they are a very good buy in this 
model. This entire analysis changes, however, 
if doctrinal assumptions are changed. For 
example, a USA player who conducts a close 
in defense may not be concerned about the 
low versatility of tanks because he intends 
to fight in and around the islands. 

Sometimes, there are considerations that go 
beyond numerical measures and are fundamen- 
tal to the game. In HOLY WAR, Metagaming's 
new MicroGame, one player is attempting to 
hurl a star into a sensor duct of the quasi- 
mechanical god Amtik, within whose vast body 
the war occurs. These Sunthrowers are opposed 
by the Holy Band, a group of believers to 
whom such an action would be sacrilege. The 
game's victory conditions require the Sun- 
tbrower player purchase a special type of space 
ship, the pressorship, whose function is to move 
a star to a sensor duct, then hurl it into the 
duct. The Holy Band, similarly, has a special 
ship, a StarBuster, whose function is to blow 
up the Sunthrowers' purloined star, but if 
they blow up the star, they have to explain it 
to their god. The explanation requires a ship 
called an Emissary of Prayer, which must 
be in one of the sensor ducts to get the god's 
attention and convey their explanation and 
apology. None of these ships types have 
really good cost effectiveness ratios without 
considering these special abilities. In purely 
economic terms, they are poor buys. However, 
the player who does not purchase these ship 
types, "buys" a defeat. 

In HOLY WAR, buying these needed ships 
has an "opportunity cost": the activation 
points that went to the necessary ships are 
not available to buy combat ships, and combat 
in the key to victory. In general, if the player 
makes a mistake at this point (when he is 
assembling his forces), it's a case of "buy now, 
'pay' later." No matter what the game, the 
same principle applies. This is why some 
simple form of cost benefit analysis can help 
a wargamer. 

The preceding discussion has highlighted 
a real world technique which military planners 
use when deciding what to buy, how much, and 
where to deploy the forces. There are other 
aspects too complex to cover here. For exam- 
ple, in life cycle costing, the analyst must 
also consider not only research, development 
and procurement costs, but also maintenance, 
supply, support facilities, and salaries for as 
long as the weapon system lasts. Even the costs 
and benefits of salvage or transfer to a thrid 
world nation must be considered. A game 
which would lend itself to that type of analy- 
sis would be SPI's recent game of the Spanish 
Armada (ARMADA), where ships have pur- 
chase costs, maintenance, victual and munitions 



TABLE FOUR 


ICE WAR: TEAM COST EFFECTIVENESS 




Team Vers 


Cmbt 


Mvmt Conv 


Cost 


C/E 


Trans C/E Avg C/E 


Rank 


Hover/lnf 0.6 


5.0 


4.0 3.0 


2.0 


3.6 


6.0 4.8 


1 


Hover/Tank 0.2 


7.0 


4.0 4.0 


3.0 


1.0 


6.0 3.5 


2 


Sled/lnf 0.5 


6.0 


4.0 4.0 


2.0 


3.5 


3.5 3.5 


2 


Sled/Tank 0.2 


8.0 


4.0 5.0 


3.0 


1.1 


3.5 2.3 


3 



costs which must be borne as the ships are 
used. 

Another refinement to the basic technique 
is "discounting" future costs and benefits, 
reducing future dollar values to present values 
in order to account for such things as inflation. 
The analyst tries to avoid incorporating different 
value dollars into his calculations. 

The method of benefit cost analysis has 
proven its worth in many projects from helium 
production in Texas to L-5 space colony 
planning. A wargamer can use a simplified 
version of the technique to examine different 
alternatives in a game, particularly to get a feel 
for which units will prove themselves superior 
in the long run. However, there are some 
cautions to remember. 

The first caution will be familiar to anyone 
who has studied computer programming: 
"GIGO", garbage in, garbage out. An analysis 
and its model are no better than their assump- 
tions and the care which has gone into making 
them. As seen in CREATURE, the results 
can be very sensitive to changes in assump- 
tions. Practice in playing the game will reveal 
which assumptions need to be re-examined 
and which need to be discarded. 

The second caution is against planning 
for its own sake. It can have a seductive appeal. 
Many analysts get lost in their mass of charts, 
graphs and printouts. Time can slip away. 
Opportunities can be lost because critical 
projects never got past the planning stage. 
This is the "marginal utility of planning". 
An analyst must weigh, sometimes intuitively, 
the value of that extra bit of analysis: is the 
closer, longer look worth the extra time, effort 
and expense? There really is a point where the 
analyst must say, "Close enough for govern- 
ment work." 

Third, this method will probably never 
produce brilliance. It is not an optimizing 
method where the best answer of all possible 
answers miraculously appears. Compromises 
are made at each step to keep the analysis 
manageable. By balancing factors, the process 
is itself a compromise. Instead of "what is 
best?", the analyst must often be satisfied with 
"what will do?" 

Fourth, the end product of this method is 
to help the decision maker make decisions. 
As it was presented here, it is a tool to help a 
wargamer assess the relative value of the units 
available. If the analysis does not appreciably 



help that decision, its costs in terms of time, 
effort and money, could have been better spent 
elsewhere. 

The recommended technique in decision 
making would be to first buy those units 
essential to the victory conditions (the pressor- 
ships for the HOLY WAR Sunthrowers, for 
example). Then, buy units in descending order 
of cost effectiveness. Each decision must be 
tempered by judgment, as there are unquanti- 
fiable benefits and costs. Only the good 
sense and experience of the player can temper 
the deceptively simple ratios. 

I have attempted to illustrate a "real world" 
technique and show how wargamers can use 
the same method. The wargamer faces the 
same decisions in simpler form as real comman- 
ders and politicians. Obviously, an indepth 
analysis of every game is neither worthwhile 
nor even interesting. However, a successful 
game is one which compels the player to 
assume the role of commander in his mind as 
well as on the map. As a wargamer, you are 
more than merely a means by which cardboard 
counters are moved. Wargaming is exercised 
not on paper, but in the mind. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 

AFR 178-1, Economic Analysis and Program 

Evaluation for Resource Management,28Dec73. 

AFP 178-2, Wing/Base Level Management 
Analysis, 18 Nov 70. Excellent source. 



AFM 25-1, 
1 5 Oct 64. 



USAF Management Process, 



Handbook of Economic Analysis, 2d Ed., 
Defense Analysis Council, no date. I got this 
as a photocopied handout in graduate school. 
It is the single best source I found and is the 
basis for the approach in this article. 

Herber, Bernard P., Modern Public Finance: 
The Study of Public Sector Economics, Richard 
D. Irwin, Inc. Homewood, Illinois, 1971. 

Hinrichs, Harley and Taylor, Graeme M, Pro- 
gram Budgeting and Benefit Cost Analysis, 
Goodyear Publishing Inc., Pacific Palisades, 
CA, 1969. 



16 



AGAIN, HARMONIUOS 

FISTS 

by 

David James Ritchie 



One of the small joys of writing for publi- 
cation comes when those ideas which one so 
casually tossed into the faceless void come 
echoing back as new articles from interested 
readers who have been inspired to put their 
own ideas down on paper. Since TSG no. 16 
carried my article, HARMONIOUS FISTS IN 
MELEE, in which I made some preliminary 
suggestions for incorporating martial arts and 
Oriental weaponry into MELEE, I have heard 
my share of echoes. Experience has shown 
some of the ideas presented in the original 
article could do with some elaboration and 
revision. Accordingly, I offer the following 
update of HARMONIOUS FISTS. 

DOIN' THAT HOODOO 

The essential supposition underlaying the 
inclusion of special rules governing the martial 
arts and Oriental weaponry in the MELEE 
framework is that martial artists and their 
weapons differ in some fundamental respect 
from other warrior types and their traditional 
slash and bludgeon approach to mayhem. If 
the skills of the martial artist were readily 
attainable to the mass of characters and dif- 
fered only in the degree of strength or dex- 
terity required of the practitioner, then simple 
augmentation of ST and DX would suffice to 
cover the effect of martial arts training. Simi- 
larly, if Oriental weaponry were all of the cut 
and bash variety, requiring no special training 
but only a general familiarity with one's wea- 
pons, there would be no point in taking them 
into account in MELEE situations. 

Yet, there is substantial evidence that the 
marital artist is a superior type of individual 
in certain respects. The special skills of a 4th 
Dan in Goju Ryu are unlikely to be duplicated 
by anyone (no matter how strong or dex- 
terous) who has not had that same specialized 
training. The attainments of the fully trained 
martial artist are, in fact, so different in scale 
and kind from the commonly understood 
abilities of other types of combatants and 
athletes as to make what they do seem like 
voodoo. To the initiated, such artistry as 
that of Oyama is a function of proper training, 
not magic. Simply put, all martial arts derive 
their peculiar effectiveness from a superior 
form of preparation for combat or mock- 
combat. 

The core of all martial arts is kata (form). 
Essentially, a kata is an intricate and precise 
form of ballet performed according to rigid 



prescriptions. The kata incorporates a number 
of movements in the form of kicks, punches, 
throws, etc. which the pupil must master. 
Each movement is performed in sequence, and 
judged by standards more demanding than 
those used for judging Olympic contestants on 
the parallel bars. Failure to place a foot proper- 
ly one time during a fifteen minute exercise 
can be grounds for disqualification for advance- 
ment. Olympic standards merely mandate the 
loss of points. Such rigid insistance upon form 
is not gratuitous. The forms of all kicks and 
punches have been worked out over centuries 
according to scientific principles of balance 
and movement. The difference between a 
punch which possesses sufficient energy to 
kill a bull and one which recoils from bruising 
a Junebug is a matter of a few millimeters 
placement, and a fraction of a second dif- 
ference in delivery time. Kata is an attempt to 
instill in the pupil the ability to kill a bull 
every time by the use of patient rehearsal 
to insure the same punch is delivered in exactly 
the same way, the body in perfect balance, 
the mind at rest, the movement automatic. . . 
every time. 

It can be useful to compare martial arts 
and ballet. Indeed, martial arts has more in 
common with ballet than modern combatatives. 
Just as the prima ballerina polishes each turn of 
the leg and flutter of the hand to perfection 
until the actual payoff, the live performance. 
So does the martial artist polish his routine. 
Ultimately, for both individuals, their bodies 
begin to move without conscious direction. 
The mind and the emotions are subdued 
(though always present in the background). 
The body is freed from chains of doubt, moving 
with natural grace and sureness. The slashing 
attack of the beserker can no more compare 
with the surity of the martial artist in action 
than can the frenetic twitching of Dori-Duz- 
the-Disco-Queen compare with Yuriko Kamura's 
delicate physical poems. 

Now, all of this waxing lyrical may seem 
inessential, but when proclaiming a measure- 
ment, it is useful to know what is being mea- 
sured. Knowing something of what constitutes 
the special nature of the martial artist could 
eliminate some confusion in the rationalization 
of his role in MELEE. Basically, in functional 
terms, the martial artist moves faster and with 
more surity in certain defined spheres. Within 
those spheres, he also exhibits more strength 
(as velocity of delivery and improved leverage). 
The martial artist may be as clumsy as you or I 



in executing an unfamiliar task, but he will 
demonstrate magic in the execution of his 
special skills. 



A TOUCH OF CLASS 

For purposes of incorporating martial 
artists into TFT, the following rules are sugges- 
ted: 

1) While employing ST, DX and IQ in the 
same manner as other characters, "Martial 
Artists" are considered a special class of charac- 
ter in that they are permitted certain functional 
benefits in combat at the expense of slower 
character development. Any character (inclu- 
ding wizards and warriors when using WIZARD 
rules) may be designated a Martial Artist at 
any time between MELEE arena combats or 
between quests when playing a campaign. 
Existing characters which are designated 
Martial Artists immediately gain the benefits 
of their class, but lose all accumulated DX 
in excess of 12 and '/a of all ST in excess of 12. 
IQ is not affected. Newly-created characters 
may be designated Martial Artists when created, 
without suffering any loss of DX or ST. This 
rule reflects the loss of comparative abilities 
when one ceases to do things in an established 
manner, and begins learning to do the same 
things in a new and unfamiliar way. Further, 
the intent of the rule is to restrain players 
who might attempt to build a normal character 
into Arnold Schwartzenbicep over a period of 
time and then, unrealistically designate this 
muscle-bound moron a black belt in Kung Fu. 

2) Martial Artists do not benefit from ex- 
perience in the same manner as other charac- 
ters. The experience of cut and thrust combat 
is, indeed, a vital part of their education, but 
it Is far less important than is solo practice. 
The sparring and fencing which make up the 
main experience of other warrior types is 
simply less valuable to a Martial Artist than to 
his uninitiated brethern. Accordingly, while 
Martial Artist types gain EP's in the normal 
manner, the value of those EP's for purposes 
of conversion into attributes is lessened. It 
costs a Martial Artist 200 EP's to gain 1 addi- 
tional point of DX or ST. IQ points may be 
purchased at the normal rate of 100 EP's per 
point. 



17 



3) Martial Artists are the only warrior types 
who can employ certain weapons at full force. 
In addition, certain weapons (not necessarily 
those limited to Martial Artists) require a 
minimum DX in order to be used to effect. 
Sha-ken, kendo stick, manrikigusari, nunchaku, 
bokken, wakizashi, katana, tonfa, sai, jutte, 
escrima, kumade and naginata are weapons 
which may only be used to full effect by 
warriors who are classified as Martial Artists, 
and who possess the minimum DX required to 
employ each particular precision weapon. 
Characters who do not meet these criteria 
may not be initially armed with such weapons. 
They may pick the weapons up during melee, 
but any attempt to use them is resolved at half 
effect (round down the number of hits scored 
before deducting for his absorbed by armor, 
shields, etc.). Further, there is a penalty of 
—2 DX imposed on unqualified characters 
attempting to hit with precision weapons. 
Characters who attempt to employ other 
weapons not listed herein, but which require a 
minimum DX not possessed by the character, 
are penalized in accordance with this rule. 
For details, see THE ORIENTAL WEAPONS 
TABLE. 

4) Martial Artists may perform certain 
feats not possible to the untrained. They may 
choose a SHIFT AND DEFEND option even 
when unarmed. They may also choose a 
CHARGE ATTACK option while unarmed. 
When choosing a SHIFT AND DEFEND 
option, the Martial Artist receives certain spe- 
cial benefits. SHIFT AND DEFEND works 
for the Martial Artist in the same manner as 
it works for other characters except that, 
additionally, characters attacking Martial Art- 
ists in a SHIFT AND DEFEND may suffer 
counter-measures. If such characters miss their 
initial die roll to hit, the Martial Artist may roll 
to hit. If the Martial Artist is successful, the 
appropriate number of hit dice is rolled for 
whatever weapon the Martial Artist may have 



used. Counter-measures may score hits in the 
normal manner. In addition, if the Martial 
Artist scores a hit for effect (not absorbed 
by armor, etc.) on his opponent, that opponent 
must roll his adjusted DX or lower, on three 
dice or he is considered "thrown" and falls 
to the ground in a hex of the Martial Artist's 
choice, but within hexes of 'front' for Martial 
Artist. Martial Artists who choose the SHIFT 
AND DEFEND or DODGE options may choose 
to deflect a thrown weapon which enters his 
hex by rolling his DX on 3 dice. Similarly, 
a missile may be deflected on a 4-dice DX 
check. The deflected weapons fall to the 
ground in the Martial Artist's hex. These 
techniques require a certain minimum DX, 
not simply the designation "Martial Artist" 
after a character's name. For details, see 
THE MARTIAL SKILLS TABLE. 



ARMS AND THE MAN 

THE ORIENTAL WEAPONS TABLE con- 
tains a relatively complete listing of the sort of 
weapons which the average Japanese, Chinese 
or Indian warrior might encounter in an adven- 
ture set in the peroid 600-1700. These are in 
addition to those weapons which are theprovince 
of the Oriental Martial Artist. Opposite each 
weapon is its damage potential, the minimum 
ST and DX required to employ the weapon 
where appropriate, the DX penalty imposed 
on a character using the weapon to disarm an 
enemy (or, in the case of the kumade, to pull 
him to the ground) and note regarding special 
weapons capabilities. In some settings, a ver- 
sion of the broad sword, a two-handed sword 
(Moro variety) or even a cutlass might be 
included on this list. 

Two new weapons have been added since 
TSG no. 16. The first is the Kumade, or bear 
paw. This weapon is, literally, an iron likeness 




i l°n« 



of a bear paw affixed to a pole. The purpose 
of the weapon is to hook an opponent's armor 
and drag him to the ground. The weapon is 
easily capable of penetrating a steel cap, and 
should be considered about as effective as the 
hooks used by the English to pull down the 
first line of French skirmishers at Agincourt. 
The naginata is a sort of great glave with a 
blade up to 4 feet long. Used with great slash- 
ing strokes, it can cut a man in half without 
much trouble. A more precise method is the 
use of the naginata to make a figure eight of 
swirling steel through which no attacker can 
penetrate. Legend says a Mii-dera monk named 
Tajima used his naginata to deflect the arrows 
fired at him during the battle of Uji (a feat 
which earned him the sobriquet of Tajima 
the Arrow-cutter). 

The armor common to the Orient includes 
everything from simple leather jerkins to 
lightweight Indian mail to the rigid plate armor 
first favored by the Chinese. All MELEE 
types should be employed. In addition, there 
is one type of armor peculiar to the Orient 
which is not covered by the MELEE rules. 
This is Asiatic "lamellar" armor. Lamellar 
armor is a scale type armor manufactured by 
binding pieces of steel or heavy hide into plates 
of varying lengths (depending upon where 
in the armor they are to be used). These 
plates are then sheathed in leather and lac- 
quered to make them watertight (lamellar thus 
being the only all-weather armor). Once the 
plates are finished, they are laced into over- 
lapping segments using strong silken cords. 
The result is a supple, yielding, but almost 
impermeable protective suit which relies upon 
deflection rather than rigidity for effect. 
Protectiveness is akin to plate armor while 
effect on movement and dexterity is compara- 
bel to chain mail. Lamellar armor was primarily 
of two types: Yoroi, the horse armor, a box 
type much favored by Japan's Samurai and 
Haramaki, the round, less cumbersome foot- 
man's armor (also favored by the Chinese). 
YOROI LEMALLAR absorbs 5 hits per attack 
at a DX adjustment of —5 and allows a MA 
of 6. HARAMAKI LAMELLAR absorbs 4 
hits per attack at a DX adjustment of —4 and 
allows a MA of 7. 



MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR 

The Oriental Monk, holy man, lama or 
whatever one chooses to call him has been 
an object of fascination to Westerners for 
nearly two centuries. The often superhuman 
qualities attributed to such individuals make 
them wondrous characters for use in any fan- 
tasy world employing an Oriental theme. 
Since such figures are often portrayed as fol- 
lowers of some zen-oriented martial art, they 
may appropriately be discussed herein. 

Generally, Oriental monks are possessed of 
special powers of self-control, making them 
especially dangerous. The blind monk who 
sees better than the sighted and whose inscru- 
table wisdom is an infallible guide to success 
may be considered archetypal. The defining 
characteristic of the Oriental monk for our 



18 



purposes might be an infinite self-mastery 
born of long meditation upon the wheel of the 
universe, etc., etc. The following rules are 
offered as a possible treatment of this charac- 
ter: 

1 ) Monks constitute a special class of character 
encompassing all Oriental holy men of 
whatever persuasion. All Monks are consi- 
dered Martial Artists and, rules which apply 
to Martial Artists also apply to all Monks. 
In addition. Monks are possessed of special 
skills dependent upon their IQ. 

2) The primary advantage accruing to Monks 
is the ability to choose a special option: 
THE SUMMON KY option which functions 
in most respects like a normal WIZARD 
spell. Any Monk may choose to summon 
his Ky, at any time. This option represents 
the choice to engage in a form of meditation 
designed to gather the individual's internal 
resources of psychic energy, making the 
character temporarily more powerful. It 
costs the Monk 1 ST to choose this option 
(payable immediately before any action is 
resolved). Unless the character who is 
summoning his Ky suffers one or more 
hits of effective damage during the Turn 
in which the Ky is being summoned, the 
attempt is automatically successful. The 
expended 1 ST is still lost. Once sum- 
moned, Ky remains controlled for 12 
Turns. The effect is as follows: For every 
2 IQ points above 10, the Monk who 
summons his Ky increases his ST and DX 
by 1 point each. Since summoning Ky is 
essentially a meditational technique and 
not a spell, both warrior and wizard type 
characters may use this option. Otherwise, 
treat as in IQ 10 spell. 

3) During any turn on which a Monk sum- 
mons Ky, that character must remain 
inactive. It cannot move, attack or effec- 
tively defend. Concentration is considered 
to be elsewhere, making the figure easier 
to hit effectively. Thus, when rolling to 
hit characters which are summoning Ky, 
the attacker automatically hits on any 
roll except 17 or 18 (which has the same, 
normal effect). This rule applies to all 
adjacent attacks (physical or magical). 
Missile and thrown weapon attacks or spells 
are resolved at +2 DX. Attempts at HtH 
combat are automatically successful (bot 
characters grapple), and the firs 
combat are automatically successful (both 
combat are automatically successful (both 
characters grapple), and the first HtH 
attack on a character torn from medita- 
tion is at +2 DX. 

4) In addition to the special ability to summon 
Ky, Monks are considered to live in a 
somewhat heightened state of awareness 
normally. In consequence. Monks have 
their IQ and DX raised by 1 for all saving 
throws. 

5) Those desiring to keep Monk type charac- 
ters from being too tough should agree 
before hand to limit wizard Monks to the 
use of certain garden-variety spells (no 
super-strong black magic), and warrior 
monks to the employment of certain 
limited weapons types or to defensive 
options. 



IN CONCLUSION 

Those who read my original article will 
note certain changes in approach herein. In 
addition, I have decreased the power of a num- 
ber of weapons to make them seem less magi- 
cal. Based on experience, the new mix of 
weapons works quite well. I have incorporated 
some of Ronald Pehr's ideas into this article 
and I recommend players use his rules regarding 
self-damage for bare-handed attackers from 
TSG no. 18 as being infinitely superior to my 



own initial concepts. I still think my damage 
chart in TSG no. 16 is valid and recommend 
it be used with these rules. Hopefully, they 
provide a more organized framework for 
adding martial artists and Oriental weapons to 
your MELEE/WIZARD campaigns. Now, if 
only Metagaming will come out with a micro- 
quest called THE GANG OF FOUR AND A 
DWARFISH LAMA ENTER THE GARDEN 
OF THE BLACK CHRYSANTHEMUM or 
suchlike, I will really be satisfied. 



SKILL 








DX 


i 
NOTES 


SHIFT AND DEFEND BARE-HANDED 




12 


Same as SHIFT AND DEFEND, 


j 










but no weapon needed j 


J CHARGE ATTACK BARE-HANDED 




13 


Possibility of self-damage ) 


SHIFT AND DEFEND (COUNTER-MEASURE) 


14 


Possibility that attacker will be ( 


j 










damaged i 


\ DEFLECT THROWN WEAPON 






15 


3-dice saving throw needed \ 


i DEFLECT MISSILE WEAPON 






16 


4-dice saving throw needed ( 


} Only Martial Artists with the 


requisite 


DX may en- 


ploy these options (or, in the case of j 


( counter-measures stemming from 


a SHIFT AND 


DEFEND, benefit in this manner from the \ 


\ option). To deflect a 


thrown weapon or 


missile 


weapo 


n (not spell), the character must have j 


chosen a SHIFT AND 


DEFEND or DODGE option that Turn. The missile or weapon is deflec- \ 


ted and drops at the c 


haracter's feet upon 


a die roll of 


DX or less on the appropriate number ) 


of dice. A character is never obligated to attempt 


a deflection. I 


| 




HAND WEAPONS 


WEAPON 


DICE 


ST 


DX 


DIS 


NOTES 


DAGGER* 


1-1 








1+2 in H2H combat 


SAI 


1-2 




13 


-2 


May defend/attack as main-gauche 


JUTTE 


1-2 




13 


-1 


Same as for sai 


ESCRIMA 


1-3 




12 




Incapable of killing j. 


TONFA 


1-2 




12 




Same as for sai 


SHA-KEN* 


1-1 




12 




See TSG no. 13 


CLUB* 


1 


9 








MANRIKIGUSARI* 


2-2 


9 


13 




See Bola Rules-TSG no.13//1-2 
in H2H 


KENDO STICK 


1+2 


10 


12 


-3 


1 in H2H combat 


NUNCHAKU* 


2 


10 


15 


-2 


BOKKEN 


1 


10 


14 


-2 


Incapable of killing 


WAKIZASHI 


2-1 


10 


13 




Same as for sai 


SHORT SWORD 


2-1 


11 








MACE* 


2-1 


11 








SMALL AX* 


1+2 


11 








KATANA+ 


2+1 


12 


14 






BATTLE AX E+ 


3 


15 












POLE WEAPONS 


JAVELIN* 


1-1 


9 


12 




See Pole Weapon Rules in MELEE 


SPEAR*+ 


1+2 


11 


12 




See Pole Weapon Rules in MELEE 


KUMADE 


1+1 


11 


12 


-2 


DIS number is for causing fall 


NAGINATA 


2+1 


12 


13 




See Pole Weapon Rules in MELEE 






MISSILE WEAPONS 


t THROWN ROCK 


1-4 








As per MELEE 
As per MELEE 


SMALL BOW+ 


1-1 


9 






HORSE BOW+ 


1 


10 






As per MELEE 


LONG BOW+ 


1+2 


11 






As per MELEE 


j * = may be thrown; * ■ 


two-handed weapor 









19 



GAMING CONVENTIONS 

WinterCon VIII: (Nov. 16-18) The winter 
version of MichiCon. WinterCon is sponsored 
by Metro Detroit Gamers (probably the best 
gaming club in the country), and the con 
has all the usual features. Info: MDG, 2616 
Kenwyck, Troy, MI 48098. 

WarCon '80: (Feb 1-3) Memorial Student 
Center, Texas A&M University, College Station, 
Texas. Board games, role-playing, miniatures, 
seminars, demonstrations, auction, films, and a 
presentation of micro-computer games. Meta- 
gaming will be sponsoring tournaments for 
several of its games. This is the oldest and best 
gaming con in Texas. Info: WarCon '80, 
Box 5718, College Station, TX 77844. 

DunDraCon V: (Feb 16-18) Villa Hotel, San 
Mateo, CA. The convention includes tour- 
naments in Dungeon, Cosmic Encounters, 
D&D, and others, as well as films, seminars, 
and computer games. Info: DunDraCon V; 
386 Alcatraz, Oakland, CA 94618. 

' SimCon II: (March 22-23) River Campus 
at the University of Rochester, Rochester, 
New York. The convention will include tourna- 
ments in D&D, MicroGames, Diplomacy, 
Cosmic Encounters, and many others. Info: 
SimCon II, Box 5142 Riverstation, Rochester, 
NY 14627. 

SCIENCE FICTION CONVENTIONS 

ConClave: (Nov 24) Ramada Inn Metro, 
Romuslus, MI. GoH: A. E. Van Vogt. Mem: 
$6 till 9/1, $20 after. Info: EMU SF Society, 
117Goodison, Ypsilanti, MI 48197. 

NutriaCon: (Nov 30-Dec 2) Grand Hotel, 
New Orleans, LA. GoH: Karl Edward Wagner, 
BobTucker, George Alec Effinger. Mem: 
$6 till 10/31, S9 after. Info: Tom Longo, 
6221 Wadsworth, New Orleans, LA 70122. 

ChattaCon Five: (Jan 4-6) Sheraton Down- 
town, Chattanooga, Tenn. GoH: Joan Vinge. 
Mem: $7 till 9/30. Banquet $10. Info: 
ChattaCon, PO Box 211173, Chattanooga, 
TN 37421. 

AggieCon XI: (March 27-30) Texas A&M 
University, College Station, Texas. GoH: 
Poul Anderson. Films, panels, art contest, 
more. Info: AggieCon XI, PO Box 5718, 
College Station, TX 77844. 

Noreascon 2: (1980 World SF con) (Aug. 
29- Sept. 1) Boston, MA (more later) 

HUGO AWARD WINNERS: Novel: Dream- 
snake, by Vonda Mclntryre; Novella: Persis- 
tence of Vision, by John Varley; Novellete: 
Hunter's Moon, by Poul Anderson; Short 
Story: Cassandra, by C. J. Chcrryh; Drama- 
tic Presentation: Superman. 



NEW GAMES 

FREEDOM IN THE GALAXY is Simulations 
Publication's game based on Star Wars; only 
the names have been changed from the movie. 
The rules provide for planetary defense bases, 
rebellions, creatures on the different planets, 
local mobs, hyperspace jumps, robots, space- 
ships, sovereigns, secret rebel bases, Imperial 
atrocities, the DeathStar (alias Planetary 
Stabilizer), interrogation and torture of priso- 
ners, and more. The game system is like 
WAR OF THE RING, but much more complex. 
Several scenarios are provided, but the full 
Galactic Campaign game is rather long (esti- 
mated playing time 20 hours). It is available 
for $20 from SPI. 

JOHN CARTER, WARLORD OF MARS is 
based on Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom 
series. It is not primarily concerned with 
character-army interactions, like WAR OF 
THE RING and FREEDOM IN THE GAL- 
AXY, but rather is a fantasy-rolc-playing 
game. It has several versions. It also is priced 
at S20. 

Avalon Hill's DUNE is based on Frank Her- 
bert's popular novel. It is a fairly simple 
multi-player game that emphasized alliances 
between the players (the Bene Gesserit, the 
Fremen, the Guild, the Harkonnens, the Em- 
porer, and the Atriedes). It includes rules for 
treachery, spice, storms, sandworms, and 
psychic abilities. It sells for S 1 2. 

Avalon Hill also released MAGIC REALM, 
a fantasy-role-playing game, and WIZARD'S 
QUEST, a boardgame. I don't know anymore 
about them. 

Game Designer's Workshop BELTER is about 
prospecting and mining the Asteroid Belt. 
Combat occurs between mining cartels and 
(in the Advanced Game) a government peace- 
keeping force. The map is of a small section of 
the Belt, and the units include crews, workers, 
mining equipment, prospecting ships, transports, 
and a few combat units. 

GDW's SNAPSHOT deals with close combat 
between individuals on board a spaceship. It 
is mateable with TRAVELLER, but it can also 
be played by itself. 

THE KUNUNIR is a new Traveller supplement, 
also put out by GDW. It is an adventure aboard 
a battlecruiser. 

TUNNELS AND TROLLS, an FRP game, has 
been revised and re-published, with new illus- 
trations. It is available for $8 from Flying 
Buffalo Inc., PO Box 1467, Scottsdale, AZ 
85252. 

SPACE QUEST is a space role-playing game. 
It is explained in a 110-page book, available 
for S9 from Tyr Gamemakers, LTD.; PO 
Box 414, Arlington, VA 22210. 



ews Sl Plug s 



A new, but well-financed game company 
called Yaquinto Publications, has started 
off with eight boxed games. Two of the 
designers, Steve Peek and Craig Taylor, used 
to work for Battleline Games, now out of 
business. Four of the games are historical 
and four are fantasy /sf oriented. ULTIMATUM 
is a near-future game dealing with possible 
nuclear war. STARFALL is a strategic (I 
think) space game. TIME WAR is about 
time travel. THE BEAST LORD is a WHITE 
BEAR AND RED MOON type fantasy board- 
game. 

Yet another company has entered the under- 
S5-sf-game market. Task Force Games, headed 
by Stephen Cole (formerly editor of JADG- 
PANTHER), has introduced STARFIRE, AS- 
TEROID ZERO-FOUR, CEREBERUS, and 
STARFLEET BATTLES. The first three sell 
for $3.95 and the last sells for $4.95. STAR- 
FIRE is a ship-to-ship combat game, with 
scenarios about space battles in a future war. 
CEREBERUS deals with the invasion of an 
Alien-occupied planet. ASTEROID ZERO- 
FOUR is about a war between Americans 
and Russians in the asteroid belt. STARFLEET 
BATTLES is based on Star Trek. 

HERITAGE MODELS SOLD: Our source 
disclosed that Heritage, one of the largest 
gaming firms, has been sold to a Texas million- 
aire. Jim Oden, president and majority stock- 
holder, apparently felt this was better than 
potential bankruptcy. Rumors had been cir- 
culating about Heritage's impending demise 
for several months. 

THE MERCENARY, a new gaming fanzine, 
deals with the smaller game companies. Write 
to The Mercenary, 6720 Chickasaw Drive, 
Fort Wayne, IN 46815. 



DIFFERENT WORLDS no. 4 has articles about 
selling game designs, enchanted weapons, 
Star Trek, and a RuneQuest adventure. This is 
a professional-looking magazine dealing pri- 
marily with FRP games. Published by The 
Chaosium, PO Box 6302, Albany, CA 94706. 



20 



The Case of the 
Missing Micros 

by Tim Solis 



This is the city. Los Angeles, California. 

We have everything to offer when it comes 
to gaming. D&D, WarpWar, Traveller, Stellar 
Conquest, you name it. But when someone 
gets too grabby and steals them it becomes 
my business I carry a badge. 

July 9, 9:59 a.m., it was a hot day at civic 
center. We were working the day shift on 
burglary. My name's Thursday because Friday 
was already taken. My partner's name is Blue 
Monday. The boss is Captain Big Wednesday. 

"Well, Blue," I said, "looks like we better 
do what the taxpayers of this city pay us for." 

"Right. Which coffee shop do you want 
to lounge around at today?" 

"I don't know. Better not stay at just one. 
We'll look busier if we visit three or four." 

Just then the phone rang. Blue and I tried 
to ignore it, but the Captain came into the 
room and made me pick it up, mainly because 
he thought his creditors were after him again. 
Unfortunately, it was a citizen in distress. 
Everyone in the division drew straws to see who 
would go out to investigate. I lost, but I didn't 
care. I figured that after we filed this report 
we could kill the rest of the shift at the Burger 
Queen. 

12:04. We entered Alfredo's Exclusive 
Hobby Shop, located on Rodeo Drive. Alfredo's 
does a brisk business selling various games and 
science-fiction paraphanalia. The proprietor, 
a Mr. Dubois told us what happened: 

"I opened up at the usual time and went 
about my regular routine until I noticed the 
back door to the stock room was open. Well, 
I got out my inventory sheet to add up the 
loss, but to my surprise I got off pretty lucky." 

"How's that?" I asked. 

"I've got over a thousand bucks in merchan- 
dise and near as I can figure they only took 
five games." 

"Could you give us a description of the 
missing items?" 

"Sure. They're MicroGames." 

"MicroGames?" 

"Yeah. They're about 8" x 4JS", come in 
a little plastic bag, and have on the cover the 
letters G.E.V." 

"G.E.V.?" 

"Yeah, it's MicroGame no. 8." 

"Okay" I said, "We'll contact you again if 
anything comes up." 

Blue was looking at another MicroGame. 

"You know, Joe, I think my kids would 
like this. I think I'll get it." 

"I wonder. What's it about?" 

"Read the back, Joe." 

"Okay, 'The Webbies want your mind. And 
unless the U.N.'s daring raid on Mars succeeds, 



the Web will enslave humanity. . .' Hmmm. . . 
There's only one thing that bothers me." 

"What's that?" asked Blue. 

"I didn't know the Internal Revenue Service 
was on Mars. . ." 

Blue took the game and another one called 
Melee up to the counter. He put the games on 
the counter, kept a poker face, and feigned 
reaching for his wallet. The clerk didn't get the 
message. 

"Will that be cash or charge?" he asked. 

Blue reluctantly went for his wallet, but I 
went over and stopped him. "Get the manager 
over here," I ordered. 

"Yessir." 

The manager came over. How much do these 
games cost?" I asked. 

"Well, it looks like you've got about six 
dollars worth there." 

"You know," I said. "This is a pretty nice 
store. I'd hate to have the fire inspector come 
over here and write up a few citations. Now, 
how much are those games?" 

"Oh. . . Uh, no charge." 

"Thanks." By now it was 1 :30. 

1 :40. It took us ten minutes to get out of 
the store because a few of the customers 
mistook us for a couple of robots. 

2:00. We ate lunch at the station. After- 
wards, Blue and I tried out one of the games. 

"Okay, your move," Blue said. 

"Alright. Watch this." I said, picking up 
the dice. I rolled a twelve~a hit. I rolled for 
the damage and got an eight. Blue's figure 
bit the dust. 

"I just can't understand it. Where did I 
go wrong, Joe?" 

"Simple. You forgot one thing." 

"What's that?" 

"Never send a hobgoblin to do a giant's 
job." 

4:13. We had received over twenty calls 
all over the metropolitan area from hobby shops 
that had been knocked over for the express 
purpose of stealing the G.E.V. MicroGames. 
I had a strong inkling that a pattern was devel- 
oping. . . 

4:34. Quitting time. We were just about 
to close up the shop when Blue noticed his 
games were missing. 

"I left them right here," he said, pointing 
at the desk. 

"Look over there, Bluel" 

In a far corner of the room I spotted a 
snot-nosed little kid playing one of the games. 
We drew our service revolvers and ordered the 
suspect to lie prone on the floor. He complied, 
and after several hours of questioning and 
threatening to show him old Dragnet episodes, 
he finally confessed. I admit we thought we 
had this one wrapped up. Not only did he 
confess about the MicroGame caper, but we 
also got him to admit to three other unsolved 
crimes; even though he couldn't have commit- 
ted one of them because he wasn't born when 
it happenedl I was glad we were finished for 
the day. I still had time to shakedown the 
ice cream man who would be coming down 
my street in a while. 

5:03. Blue and I were caught trying to 
sneak out of police headquarters after learning 



that the snot-nosed kid put the finger on us. 
How was I to know that he was the Chief's 
snot-nosed kid? 

9:15 a.m., Wednesday, July 10. I feel 
pretty good considering that I had to spend the 
whole night cleaning prisoner cells at the coun- 
ty jail. Luckily for me, the case of the missing 
MicroGames is now in the hands of someone 
else. 

4:10 p.m., Monday, September 14. I'm 
still officially off the case, however, the follow- 
ing things have now come to light: 

ITEM: The CIA has intercepted radio 
transmissions coming from the Ural mountains 
in the U.S.S.R. It has been learned that the 
Soviets are quickly building large factories in 
this area. So far, the CIA has only been able 
to decipher one Russian code word: Ogrenski. 

ITEM: The FBI has located one of the 
missing MicroGames and has turned it over to 
the President. Unfortunately, he can't seem to 
get it open and has called out the Army Corps 
of Engineers to advise him on the matter. His 
daughter. Amy, has promised to explain the 
rules to him when and if he ever opens it. 

ITEM: The Senate committee on weapons 
research has obtained a few copies of the game 
and seems interested in implementing weapons 
of this type, but are unable to do so because 
they are convinced that the rules are in some 
type of code. 

ITEM: Metagaming, the company that 
makes MicroGames, has just received an order 
for 136 of MicroGame no. 5; also known as 
RIVETS. The order was placed by the Argen- 
tinian government. Meanwhile, rumor has it 
that Chilean agents are attempting to negotiate 
the building of Boppers with the designer 
of RIVETS in order to keep one jump ahead 
of Argentina. Both countries are poor and 
cannot afford more sophisticated weaponry. . . 

ITEM: Since Skylab fell, there has been 
growing concern by some internationally 
known scientists that it did not fall by its 
own accord. Rather, it was knocked out of 
orbit by aliens who, after accomplishing this 
dastardly deed, will set their sights on conver- 
ting our atmosphere into theirs. 

As for me, I'm not on burglary anymore. 
My partner. Blue, has been transferred to 
traffic control. I'm now in the public relations 
division of the department. You know, go out 
to the schools, show the kids the right way 
and wrong way to cross the street, bicycle 
safety, things like that. But I still get home 
in time to shakedown the ice cream man 
for a free popcicle. That's another strange 
thing; yesterday, after bumming another ice 
cream off of him, he told me that he had 
had it with me and my freebies. Then he said 
something about that if I ever bothered him 
again he'd give me a Magic Fist. I guess that's 
a new type of ice cream bar. Anyway, I'll 
find out when I shake him down today. 

7776 story you have Just read is false. The 
names were changed to protect the guilty 
(except the writer, who originally wrote this 
story in crayon because, where he lives, they 
have to be careful not to let him play with 
anything sharp such as a pen or pencil). 



21 



Cyborg 

a review 

by 

W.G. Armintrout 



Title of Game: CYBORG-The Ultimate 

Adventure 

Publisher: Excalibre Games Inc. 

Designer: not listed 

Fidelity of Simulation ("Realism") 8 

Physical Quality 8 

Graphics 6 

Bookkeeping (Player Aids) 3 

Rules Clarity 2 

Payability 8 

Game Speed 8 

Game Balance 7 

Game as a Whole ? 

Anyone who thinks writing a review is easy 
hasn't done it. Yes, it's a lot of fun seeing 
your name in print, and your opinion on 
display. But there is also some real anguish. 
It is a lot like receiving a proposal of marriage- 
you hate to say "no", but you're afraid to say 
"yes". 

This review has been very hard to write, 
as you'll see when I come to my conclusion. 
Meanwhile, let's look at Excalibre's CYBORG 
in several crucial categories: 

FIDELITY OF SIMULATION: What is 
CYBORG all about? The advertizing can tell 
us the whole story -- 

CYBORG is an adventure game that 
pits a beautiful princess, her Amazon 
companions and powerful Cyborg guar- 
dians against a horde of hideous mutants, 
evil wizards and deadly terrain. The 
game includes a one-to-one combat 
system, 240 die-cut counters, large 
playing map and very playable rules. 

Obviously this is not a detailed military 
simulation, and it would be silly to evaluate 
it on that basis. Instead-is it faithful to its 
premise? Does it really play like a Princess 
VS the Evil Bad Men game? 

"Yes. . ." This is not at all a traditional 
wargame, and that is a real plus for CYBORG. 
Just like Milton Bradley makes wargames, 
this is a wargaming version of those childrens' 
games you see in stores which feature all the 
current TV show heroes. Princess Gloriana and 
her loyal followers begin the game on the hex 
marked START. Three roads lead from there 
to the destination- the Holy City (though 
Gloriana does not have to stick to the roads). 
Terrain features sound like they came from 
Saturday morning TV: the Snake Pits of 
Lacnar, piranha-infested Caribe River, the 
Hatching Grounds of the Gargoyles, etc. And 
the other player, Gloriana's evil aunt Aemulatio 
and her Necromancers, is not content to 
merely kill the princess. . .they specifically 



want to throw the princess into the volcano 
Immolare! No WOODEN SHIPS AND IRON 
MEN, ladies and gentlemen. . .but it sure 
sounds like funl 

Forces range from the fantastic but few 
troops of the princess - Cyborgs, Amazons, 
and Imperial Guard, plus pitiful regiments of 
Villagers -to the numberless hordes of Mutants 
and flying gargoyles which follow Aemulatio. 
Each side also has its resident magicians. 
Gloriana has boats and airships to aid her 
fight, but these are at the wrong end of the 
map - at the destination. 

It is hard not to like a game like this. It 
is automatically familiar to us, unlike those 
other games where it takes ten pages of material 
to clue us in as to what is going on. But, there 
are some flaws. . . 

Combat is NOT person-to-person, not 
unless these are weird people-only a single 
counter fills an entire village. Magic is con- 
ducted by die roll, with magicians having no 
choice in what spell they cast. I wish Aemula- 
tio had more variety of troops -• just mutants 
and gargoyles seems limiting. And I have a 
minor complaint about the initial set-up: 
Princess Gloriana is supposed to be fighting 



her way to the Holy City to assume the throne 
of her dead father. Why, then, do most of 
Gloriana's forces start with her in the START 
box, while only a few are stationed in the 
Holy City? Shouldn't Gloriana have just a 
few loyal troops with her to begin the game? 

But, all in all, I find that I believe in CY- 
BORG. I give it an "8" here. 

PHYSICAL QUALITY: The components 
are fine quality, as can be expected from 
Excalibre. The mapsheet is 28" x 23", printed 
in blue and brown on heavy duty paper. The 
terrain types- river, lake, mountain, forest, 
farmland, village, marsh, radiation zone- 
are easy to distinguish. The counters are die-cut 
and printed in dark colors (red for Aemulatio, 
green for Gloriana) that are easy to tell apart. 
Unfortunately, the counters are mostly blank 
because the artist drew the sillouette low in 
one corner, the movement factor in another 
corner, and the label in tiny print over the top. 
It is hard to tell the counters of one side apart. 
The rulesbook is printed on slick paper (two 
8'/2 x 11 sheets) enclosed in a protective folder, 
and does not contain a single spelling error! 
Except for the counter problem, I am happy 
with the components - "8". 




22 



GRAPHICS: The motif is comic book, 
and the artist is R. P. Winther. His work is 
almost uniformly terrific. The sole exception 
is the front cover art. This piece of art is 
probably the worst drawing of a neo-naked 
princess I have ever seen. One mistake, but 
a big one - only a "6" here. 

BOOKKEEPING: A heavy yellow page 
holds the C.R.T. on one side and the Order of 
Appearance chart on the other. Very nice. . . 
but the player aid doesn't agree with the 
rulesbookl Retreat rules are re-explained in 
a totally different fashion, a new rule about 
wounding the princess is sketchily mentioned, 
and the C.R.T. is cluttered with gimmicky 
symbols: DS (Defender Slain), DE (Defender 
Eatenl, DB (Defender Blasted), DM (Defender 
Melted), and DD (Defender Disintegrated). 
This kind of player aid is of no aid at all -- "3". 

RULES CLARITY: In their house maga- 
zine. Tactics & Strategy, Excalibre explains 
its devotion to "pure and simple" science 
fiction games. So far as rules go, this seems to 
mean "pure and sloppy". To cite problems: 
No terrain rules for rivers, which dominate the 
map. Does "Only one unit may attack one 
other unit per turn" really mean what it says? 
No units may be forced to retreat into fatal 
terrain, but a whole rules section covers that 
point anyway. Boats are provided in the game, 
and an island is a crucial strategic locale, but 
no rules are given for landing troops from a 
boat. An unclear rule seems to indicate airships 
may be attacked in the air only if they are 
flying off the coast, while boats may never be 
attacked (not even by flying gargoyles). In all 
fairness, these rules problems can be settled 
by a pre-game agreement among players — it 
isn't as if you have to write your own rules. 
Still, a game should be self-explanatory. I give 
CYBORG's rules clarity a "2". 

PLAYABILITY: Easier than most Micro- 
Games. Movement is by expending movement 
factors according to terrain, with flying units 
disregarding terrain. Magic is cast by rolling 
a die. For combat, the attacking unit referen- 
ces its type versus the defender's type on the 
C.R.T. This provides three possible results of 
equal probability, and a die roll choses the 
final result. With only three possible results, 
it is easy to make generalizations. Mutants 
always whip Villagers, either destroying them 
or forcing them to retreat. Likewise, Cyborgs 
melt right through Mutants. Extremely power- 
ful units -- Aemulatio herself, for instance - can 
be totally immune to attacks from such normal 
units as the Imperial Guard or Mutants. This 
may seem very simple to most gamers, but 
CYBORG is designed to match the system -- the 
whole thing works. It is also easy to play, 
so I give it an "8". 

GAME SPEED: Two or three hours, most 
of which is spent in actual movement or com- 
bat. This will keep your attention on the 
game. "8" here. 

GAME BALANCE: I would say the player 
commanding Princess Gloriana's forces has a 
small advantage. He has fewer but more 
powerful troops, and just one point to defend - 
the princessi Gloriana's side is more forgiving 
of errors, and the superiority of the troops 
allows for gaining the initiative in combat 



situations. But, I prefer to play the Aemulatio 
side. This is most unforgiving - just a few 
crucial mistakes, and those Cyborgs can tear 
apart the enemy. The temptation is great 
to waste strength by attacking piecemeal 
with whatever is available rather than to let 
Gloriana advance while assembling an attacker 
force for a major assault. However, Aemulatio 
has those flying gargoyles! These are great for 
behind-enemy-lines raids to capture the prin- 
cess. "7" for balance. 

GAME AS A WHOLE: Well, here it is. 
The conclusion. And I don't know what to 
say. . . 

CYBORG is a fun game. It is a challenging 
game, and the believable premise makes it 
easier to want to play the game over and over 
again. It may look like a grown-up version of 
Monopoly, but it is really a good game. 

On the other hand, we are all consumers 
and the game companies are the ENEMY. 
If we cast our economic vote by purchasing 
CYBORG, we cast our vote for sloppy editing, 
uncorrelative material, and poorly-written 
rules. There is already too much of that 
in the industry. 

It's a tough decision, and you'll have to 
make it. Buy a fun game, or boycott a sloppy 
publishing job. It would be best all around 
if Excalibre would simply revise CYBORG, 
edit the rules properly, and reissue the game 
in a second edition. 

CYBORG is available from Excalibre 
Games Inc., Box 29171, Brooklyn Center, 
MN 55429, for $8.95. 



STAR FLEET BATTLES 

a review 

by 

Kenneth W. Burke 



STAR FLEET BATTLES is the fourth in 
a series of games published by Task Force 
Games, a newcomer to the wargaming field. 
Being the third Star Trek wargame produced 
(the STAR TREK BATTLE MANUAL being 
the first and the STAR FLEET BATTLE MAN- 
UAL the second), STAR FLEET BATTLES 
is a significant improvement over its predeces- 
sors. It is unfortunate that it is not improve- 
ment enough. 



STAR FLEET BATTLES comes with a 
rule booklet (5" x 8'/2"; 30 pages including 
cover), a map (17" x 22", sky blue with an 
SPI style grid coordinate system), ship speci- 
fication tables, movement tables, and die-cut 
counters. The counters are quite thin; you 
must punch them out carefully or their tops 
will rip off. The rulebook also has problems; 
its printing is incredibly small and contains 
errors. The speed of light is presented as being 
ten thousand kilometers per second, not the 
two hundred ten thousand kilometers per 
second that it is. The 0-1 range column of the 
Photon Torpedo reads "Miss" for all combat 
results when it should read "Hit". Declining 
educational standards, no doubt. 

In STAR FLEET BATTLES, payability 
can best be defined as slow. Its being miniature 
-oriented means players must take time to fill 
in their energy allocation sheets, plot their 
vessels movement patterns, and the like. A 
movement "mode" system, in which ships with 
different speeds move at different times during 
the movement phase, only adds to the slowness. 
The mapboard proves itself to be too small, 
allowing the starships little room to maneuver. 
If each hex represented an area five or ten times 
the speed of light across, the mapboard would 
be all right; they don't, though, so it isn't. 

Overall, I give STAR FLEET BATTLES 
a "need for improvement" rating. In their 
desire to make an "accurate" Star Trek war- 
game, its designers inadvertently let payability 
fly out the window, and wound up with a game 
so complex it makes ALPHA OMEGA look like 
KRIEGSPIEL. The only silver lining behind 
this dark cloud of a game is the possibility that 
someone wiil someday design a playable Star 
Trek game, along the Avalon Hill WAR AT SEA 
line. Better still, maybe someone will design 
a STAR TREK game with optional complexity, 
like Avalon Hill's revised BISMARCK. In 
either case, I cannot recommend you buy 
STAR FLEET BATTLES, unless you are the 
most loyal SF&F gamer or Trekkie fan ima- 
ginable. Even then, you will find STAR 
FLEET BATTLES to be a colossal bore. 
The game costs $5.00; it's available at local 
hobby stores only. 




23 



Everyday Life 

in The Fantasy Trip 

by 

Martin Halbert 



All right, anyone with the TFT Micros and 
some dice can confidently state precisely what 
will happen when Ysmog the Avid casts a 
freeze spell at Curmugeon the Craven of IQ, 
DX, ST blah, blah, blah at range yerpity blop. 
With these wondrous simulation systems (and 
don't get me wrong, I think they're great), 
we have reduced the adrenaline-packed swing 
of the sweaty warrior into cold numbers, and 
the meaty chop into subtracted points on 
lucid, stark sheets of black and white. Finel 
Although I sometimes wonder if my shivering 
worthies would actually hold close to their 
hearts the logic of the numbers and really 
charge anything as gruesome as a squad of 
goblins. At least we can bang on the table, 
rattle the windows, and shout to the high 
heavens that, b'god, if they had, them con- 
sarned uglies would've been whippedl Vodka 
the Stumbling lost exactly six strength points, 
etc., etc. 

As I said, fine. But I sometimes wonder 
between swings of the morningstar what 
ordinary life is like in TFT. I mean, beyond 
the walls of the arena, out of the gloom of the 
dungeon, away from the stench of the battle- 
field. What are those kingdoms like? Of course, 
they have high towers and walls, but the 
archeologist in me wonders what kind of 
lives people would lead in this and other 
magical worlds. 

We picture TFT, D&D, etc., as being set in 
a continuum analogous to the Middle Ages. 
Now throw working magic in and let's see 
what would happen. Several SF/Fantasy 




efforts have been made in this direction by 
writers like Poul Anderson, Ursula K. Le Guin, 
and Larry Niven.a former mathematician in his 
Warlock series. Niven did a superb job of 
explaining the nature of mana, what he defined 
as the force behind magic. He explained 
how, but not why. Does anybody have any 
thoughts on just what magic is? Sure, wizards 
gesture cryptically and mumble esoterically 
and, well, things happen. But why? Applied 
quantum mechanics, ESP, the will of the dread 
god Yursomosch the Maladroit? 

Let's suppose TFT magic is a fifth force in 
nature, unlike strong and weak nuclear forces, 
electromagnetism, and gravitation in that, as 
Niven said, it is controllable to varying degrees 
by organisms, and controls by varying degrees 
organisms. Now we have something like 
Kirliam auras, a kind of force field which all 
objects possess. Now, given our hindsight of 
history, what do men (or any sentients) tend to 
do with a controllable force? One, they dis- 
cover its applications in warfare. Two, they 
work on peaceful applications. TFT pretty 
well covers the military aspects. But, what 
else can we do with magic? 

We, or rather they, can harness it to do 
work first of all. The easiest way to do so in 



the TFT rulebook is with illusions. If everyone 
involved keeps believing, an illusionary creature 
can do an infinite amount of work at no cost 
(other than its creation cost). Illusion slaves 
could be mass produced in magic factories, 
and nobody in the kingdom ever has to work 
again. Notice, the rules say illusions vanish 
the instant their creator dies, wills them away, 
or goes unconscious. Unconscious is much 
different from asleep, so your golem won't 
disappear the second the creator wizard turns 
in for the night. More on all this in a moment. 

What about architecture? The wall spell, 
at 2 ST pts., seems like a viable substitute for 
bricklaying. What is the load bearing capacity 
of a magically created wall? How precisely can 
they be placed in creation? It seems likely that, 
with practice, a squad of mason wizards could 
throw up castles faster than an army of slab- 
hauling pyramid slaves. What about illusion 
walls? Granted the right properties by their 
creators, illusion walls could make up sky- 
scraper castles, or even float in air if made 
weightless. It would be easier to disbelieve in 
a wall hanging in mid-air, but once the trend 
was set, the kingdom's inhabitants would find 
such structures commonplace. Mind you, 
care must be taken with gawking tourists. 



24 




What about art? Any dummy mystic of 
IQ 8 can whip up an image which is indistin- 
guishable from the original, except it would be 
destroyed if touched. Anyone knowing the 
image spell can laugh at the concept of cameras. 
By creating the image in a bottle, you can cap- 
ture a scene in 3-D, sound, and smell. These 
possible works of art are limited only by the 
imagination. The poorest beggar could live in 
splendor, if careful not to touch. Whatever 
else, these magical kingdoms are going to glow 
at night with color and beauty, making our 
primitive neon efforts look sick. 

As long as there are healthy mages in these 
magical lands, there will be no energy crisis. 
Light is easy to create through images. For the 
effects of heat, real fire is available, inexhaust- 
able, and cheap (1 ST pt.). For furnaces and 
forges where more intense heat is needed, 
multiple fire spells can be used, or an illusion 
fire of any intensity can be created. 

The people in Cidri are going to be healthy, 
for all their fighting. Aid spells will keep the 
sick well. Sleep spells would outclass any 
anaesthetic yet developed. For critical cases, 
a shield spell might screen the victim from a 
disease (a kind of thrown spell, after all). 
The slow movement and freeze spells might 



be refined by grocers to keep food from spoil- 
ing. 

By this time I've probably got a crowd of 
booing warriors throwing more than spells. 
Grocery magic? Bahl Silliest thing Vodka 
the Stumbling ever heard of, but with his name, 
he should talk. If this article seems to be 
examining something seriously which is only 
meant to be fun, too bad. If we can add up 
Ysmog's essence in three columns, we can also 
consider grocery magic for fun. 

Illusions keep bugging me. Extrapolating, 
one comes up with ludicrous extremes. Ima- 
gine whole kingdomes of nothing but illusions. 
Educate everyone in wizardry, and nobody 
needs anything he can't dream up in his head. 
A palace for every couple, a flying galleon for 
the commuter, and worse ad nauseum. It re- 
minds me too much of Niven's scenario. In his 
universe, when the mana ran out, all the flying 
palaces smashed back to the ground and those 
high and mighty civilizations fell to sword- 
slinging barbarians who'd never heard of magic, 
and didn't need or want it. It would be even 
worse in TFT. The wizard kingdoms would 
grow so dependent on illusions that they would 
no longer be able to disbelieve them if they had 
to. Along comes a barbarian horde, takes one 



look at those incredible towers hanging in the 
sky and POOF. The wizards are sitting on so 
much air. End of the magic civilization. Evolu- 
tion favors the barbarians through the years. 
Today we're incapable of believing in magic, 
so it doesn't exist any more. Sounds likely, 
doesn't it? But, I don't believe it. People 
want to believe in magic too much for it not 
to manifest itself, if it existed. 

Surely we can expect hard up wizards to 
create illusion concubines (and studs of course, 
gals). What do we call the offspring of such a 
Mason? Is it illusionary, real, or summoned? 
Perhaps it would be a clone of the real partner, 
since the illusion can technically contribute 
nothing corporeal. Can illusions mate? I doubt 
it would result in offspring (see bottom of page 
14 in the WIZARD rulebook). While we're in 
this area, can illusion food sustain you, even if 
nobody disbelieves it? 

The aid spell bothers me, too. Brian McCue 
raised an excellent point in TSG no. 22 in his 
Three Words. While it isn't usually practical 
in small scuffles, with a concerted effort by a 
large number of magicians, a single wizard 
could be super-energized until he would be 
capable of almost anything. He could magic 
fist a hole through a mountain, teleport around 
the world, or throw spells requiring superhu- 
man capabilities which the WIZARD spell table 
couldn't hint at. Extrapolating again, we come 
up with a rational explanation for gods in TFT. 
Simply believing in a certain concept, it would 
seem to me, if powered by enough people, 
would act as a kind of aid spell. By worship- 
ping Yursomosch and sacrificing to him ritual- 
ly, it seems like his worshippers would eventually 
come up with an actual, if magical, manifes- 
tation of a fifty-headed fish-god with hundreds 
of arms and a dozen tails. And Yursomosch 
would act just as they had imagined him to 
(he couldn't do anything else, being a kind of 
illusion), so the people's faith in him would 
grow stronger, and he would grow stronger, 
and. . .you get the idea. If enough people 
believe in Yursomosch, he becomes the strong- 
est god around, attracting even more followers. 
If two kingdoms have inimical feelings toward 
each other, their gods fight (being a manifes- 
tation of their mass mind) and mythology is 
born. When the people die out, the gods go 
away. Very tidy, hmmm? Old idea, too. 

So what are we left with? Cidri, the TFT 
world, is weirder than anyone expected. On 
the one extreme, we have sky-dwelling civili- 
zations of super-advanced magic technology 
which come crashing down if their inhabitants 
aren't careful to keep their cities invisible from 
the other extreme, club-toting barbarians who 
live a crude and pungent existence without 
magical wonders. Of course, there will also be 
everything in between, and a travelog would 
be interesting to say the least. I know one 
thing, though. As I look around at our grey 
cities of concrete and steel, our cars chugging 
along on borrowed time, our blaring electronic 
devices, our smog, our endlessly breaking 
consumables, and all our sullen-faced, jaded 
populations, I advise my quaking warriors, 
"You guys don't know how good you got 
itl" 






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TFT 02 WIZARDS (S2.95) 

2 ea. Clerics, Clerics w/staff. Sorcerer, Sorcerers Apprentice, 
Sorcerer w/pedestal. Wizard, Wizard w/staff 
TFT 03 DWARVES ($2.95) 

2 ea. Dwarf w/bow, w/spear", w/axe, w/sword, leather. Dwarf 
w/chainmail spear", w/hammer, w/crossbow, w/two hand 
axe 
TFT 04 ELVES ($2.95) 

2 ea. Elf w/sword. Kneeling w/bow. Standing w/bow. Chain- 
mail w/sword, w/bow, w/spear standing 

1 ea. Elf chainmail w/spear kneeling, Leather w/spear 
TFT05 LABYRINTH DWELLERS ($2.95) 

2 ea. Wolves, Bear, Gargoyles 

1 ea. Ogre, Giant 
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4 ea. Ores w/bow, w/sword, w/crossbow, w/poleaxe 
TFT07 HOBGOBLINS ($2.95) 

2 ea. Hobgoblin w/sword, w/scimitar. Standing w/bow. Kneel- 

ing w/bow, w/axe, w/hammer 
7 ea. Hobgoblin w/polearm, w/poleaxe 
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1 ea. Dragon, Treasure chest. Gold pile 
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sword 
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ORDER CONDITIONS 

Due to the mailing weight of these Mircoture packages, 
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SOLD BY: 



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P.O. BOX 15346 

AUSTIN, TX 78761 



MANUFACTURED UNDER LICENSE BY: 
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P.O. BOX 388 
CEDAR PARK,TX 78613 



26 



The Unwritten 
Rules of Rivets 

by 

Roland Parenteau 



RIVETS is a real switch. In most other 
wargames, the effective strengths of units 
against one another are immutable, given, 
undeniable -- a T55 tank unit against an M60 
always loses (well, almost always). In those 
other games, it's up to the players to work 
with the units and the unit-strengths they are 
given. That's all the players can do. 

In RIVETS, on the other hand, each player 
decides which of his units will be effective 
against which other enemy units. Not only 
that, but each player can actually change his 
mind about this fundamental game parameter, 
right in the middle of the game. This is what 
makes RIVETS interesting - and makes pre- 
game planning difficult, if not downright 
impossible. 

For readers not familiar with the game 
situation, RIVETS is a game about a battle 
between two teams of robots. The people 
have been killed off long ago, but the semi- 
intelligent robots don't know how to cease fire, 
so they keep on going. Each player selects his 
counter-mix from among several different 
types of robots: Big Boppers, Jack Boppers, 
Rocket Boppers, Dive Boppers, Light Boppers, 
and Tiny (pronounced "teeny", of course) 
Boppers. All the boppers are controlled by the 
player's Bopper Control and Production Com- 
plex, or BCPC for short. The BCPC is also the 
player's source of replacement units. The ob- 
ject of the game is to destroy the opponent's 
BCPC. 

Before the game, each player "programs" 
each of the unit-types he has on the board to 
attack one, and only one, of an opponent's 
unit-types. For example, I could program my 
Big Boppers to attack your Rocket Boppers, 
my Jack Boppers to attack your Light Boppers, 
and so forth. A given unit can only attack an 
opposing unit-type it is programmed to attack - 
none other. (There are exceptions, but read 
the rule book to find out.) 

A player can re-program any of his units 
assuming that all the units he wishes to re- 
program are inside his BCPC. 

Combat takes place at the end of each 
player's turn, after he has moved his units. 
Any friendly unit which is programmed to 
attack an enemy unit it is adjacent to does so, 
by comparing combat factors, reducing the 
comparison to an odds ratio, and rolling the 
die. One important point in this game: if the 
enemy unit is nor programmed to attack the 
unit-type that is attacking it, then the attacker 
resolves the combat one column higher up on 
the comba^ results table. This is called the 
"combat add", and can be a big advantage. It 
can also be a very unpleasant surprise when you 
don't get it, but were expecting to. 




Given that you are playing a game where 
you aren't certain which of your opponent's 
units can attack which of yours, how should 
you intellignetly proceed? Naturally, since you 
can't know what your opponent will be up to 
before the game starts, rigid planning is out. 
You need instead a set of guidelines and "tricks- 
of-play" to keep in mind. I can suggest a few. 

1) Keep track of your opponent's units. 
This rule can be divided into two sub-rules: 
(a) keep track of which of your opponent's 
units is attacking which of yours; and (b) keep 
track of how many units of each type your 
opponent has remaining, and where they are 
on the board. 

Rule 1(a) seems obvious, but is worth 
discussing. The only ways you will obtain 
information about which of your opponent's 
units are attacking which of yours are by 
attacking his units, and noting which ones give 
you a combat add and which don't, or by 
allowing your opponent to attack your units. 
Whichever way you get the information (you're 
likely to get it both ways), don't waste a shred 
of it. The only way to estimate the likelihood 
of success of any offensive you want to make is 
to know what your opponent has in the neigh- 
borhood that can attack your units. 

Rule Kb) is a little less obvious, but never- 
theless, important. There are situations when 
you may not want to destroy your opponent's 
last remaining unit of a certain type. If you 
destroy it, he gets to re-program that unit-type 
with his next replacement -- and that might 
not be to your advantage. If you don't destroy 
it, on the other hand, your opponent may re- 
turn his unit to his BCPC and re-program it 
anyway. Or he may advance it to do whatever 
his lone unit can do. It'll help your chances 
if you know what his options are. 

2) Use as varied a force as possible. This 
rule, too, can be divided into two sub-rules: 
(a) especially when advancing on the enemy 
BCPC, try to have several different unit-types 
around, instead of just one or two; (b) don't 
overdo the number of your unit-types program- 
med to attack one unit-type of the enemy's. 
You'll lose the combat add, and therefore the 
advantage of numbers, more frequently. What's 
more, some other unit you haven't programmed 
against will more easily get through and do you 
damage. 

3) Don't be afraid to destroy you own units. 
Few things are more frustrating than wanting 



to re-program a unit-type to do something 
useful, but having one little remaining unit 
louse up your plans and require several turns 
to make it back to the BCPC. What is the 
answer to this problem? A poor-odds, sacrifi- 
cial attack - after all, these are just robots, 
remember? 

That just happens to be one of the things 
about RIVETS I find especially entertaining 
and liberating -- there are no people involved 
in any of the combats. All the historical games 
from Avalon Hill or SPI, and even the other 
MicroGames, involve people: people riding 
around in spaceships, tanks or whatever; or 
people walking around as infantry, or as just 
plain people. As a wargamer-with-a-heart, I 
find it very difficult to justify sacrificing 
these "peopled" units except under extreme 
circumstances. I'm just not the kind of guy 
who can advance a truck unit into the line-of-fire 
of a whole townful of tanks just to spot their 
fire. In RIVETS, though, I don't have a prob- 
lem - like the back of the rule book says, 
"What else can you expect from robots with 
the average intelligence of an electric can 
opener?" 

4) Use your build points carefully. There's 
no point in turning another Jack Bopper loose 
on the board when you have only one other 
Jack Bopper left, and its only got one target - 
unless the target is a Big Bopper that's pro- 
grammed to attack your Jack Boppers, and you 
need the extra unit to improve your odds. 
Barring that, a wiser course might be to bring 
the remaining unit back to the BCPC, then 
re-program both units and unleash them all at 
once. An opponent with an "unbalanced" 
threat (see Rule 2) can get a nasty surprise 
that way. 

5) Have fun with it. This reminder should 
go at the front and back of the rule book of 
every MicroGame. The game is short and 
plays several times at a sitting. Explore varia- 
tions. Treat it like you would a game of 
chess - after a couple of King's Pawn openings, 
try Queen's Pawn, then try the Sicilian, maybe 
the French Defense, and so on. You can't 
consider yourself experienced until you've 
tried a lot of variations. 

And don't make winning or losing a big 
deal. I'd much rather lose an exciting game 
(and start another one immediately) than win 
a game which cost me a month's worth of 
Friday nights. Life's too short. 



27 



■pttars to the Editor 



Let me publicly thank Lynn Willis for 
responding to my review in your magazine-- 
a reviewer, like a game designer, needs com- 
ment and criticism. 

As requested by Mr. Willis, here are my 
concerns about the Supply Rule, stacking, and 
supply trains in general: 

The stacking limits are imposed because of 
the "difficulty of supply". Why then do the 
supply trains only increase the stacking limits 
during combat? The whole matter of combat 
and non-combat stacking limits is not dealt 
with in sufficient detail - I am somewhat lost. 

Only two supply trains are allowed in one 
hex per player. What happens if a player who 
already has two trains in the hex captures 
a third or fourth? 

There are no rules for deploying the supply 
units at the beginning of the game. Do we han- 
dle it like the hereditary artillery, or must 
all units be purchased? Can a rich player really 
"buy up" all the world's supply trains? 

Supply counters have a combat factor. 
If a hex containing a sole supply train is entered 
by enemy forces, what happens? Combat? 
Automatic change of control, since supply 
units are "indestructable"? 

Why do the supply trains have a combat 
factor? Does this mean that a desperate player 
can launch an attack with only supply trains? 
Can supply trains fight each other? 

Supply trains raise the stacking limit in 
combat. What if losses occur~can the supply 



train be taken as a casualty, and if so, what 
happens to the over-stacked units when the 
stacking limit decreases? 

This is obvious, but perhaps you should 
specifically state that supply units do NOT 
raise stacking limits of transport units like 
arks. 

I also suggest that all rules pertaining to 
supply units be placed in the Supply Rule 
section. The combat and non-combat stacking 
limit business, for instance, is only mentioned 
in the Stacking Section, Basic Rules, pg. 2, 
while the other rules are in the Advanced 
Rules, page 9. 

I also have a few minor points of irritation: 
Why are supply trains indestructible? Can't 
I at least have a die roll to see if I destroy my 
supplies before the enemy gets to them? Why 
are supply trains as fast as most armies? Why 
do supply trains cost the same to purchase 
for every player, when the Transwyoming 
country particularly should find it easy to 
locate draft horses (after all, they find it easy 
to get cavalry for the army)? 

Almost all of these questions can be solved 
by an individual wargamer, but I look forward 
to having the game's designer provide universal 
solutions. It is a little nicer when everyone 
is playing by the same set of rules. 

W. G. Armintrout 
Tooele, UT 



I have just read Howard Thompson's edi- 
torial article in The Space Gamer no. 24. While 
I do not feel that editorials should be written 
while under the influence of a severe hangover, 
I do concede that your position in that article 
might have some slight justification. For that 
reason, I wish to repeat the anecdote which 
follows: 

During the second world war, an Army 
recruit arrived on Guadalcanal at the height 
of the operations against the Japanese. Flushed 
with ferocious patriotism, he demanded of an 
old sergeant: "Where are Nips?— I want to 
KILLI" The sergeant pointed to a grassless 
knoll one hundred yards beyond the front lines 
and said: "Son, you go up on that hill there 
and shout 'Hirohito sucks turds' real loud 
about three times and you'll be able to kill 
half the Japs on this island." The recruit went 
off. About fifteen minutes later, the recruit 
came running back to the sergeant, who asked: 
"Well, how many Japs did you kill?" The 
recruit panted: "Sergeant, I went up there 
and yelled just like you said, and all of a sudden 
this little yellow fellow with buck teeth, thick 
glasses, and a two foot pig-sticking bayonette 
on the end of his rifle jumped out of the grass 
and came at me screaming "Roosevelt is a 
bastard!" - and I came back here just as fast 
as I could 'cause I could not bring myself to 
shoot a Republican." 

Some people think life's a lot like that, 
you know, Howard. 




A fast comment on the psychology of 
gamers: Lawyers visit their mistakes in jail, 
doctors bury theirs, and good gamers laugh 
their's off; gaming is the adventure of making 
decisions and not having to worry about the 
consequences because cardboard does not 
bleed. Little more than that should be made of 
the entire hobby. 

Jeff Tibbetts 
Oakland, CA 



28 



As a novice to the gaming field I found 
Mr. Thompson's article in TSG no.23 rather 
interesting. In "Where We're Going, he suggests 
that gamers use more literate tastes in buying 
games. I would like to suggest to Mr. Thompson 
that it is rather hard to buy wisely, unless. . . . 
there are competent reviews of games in maga- 



zines like The Space Gamer or The Dragon; 
much like the review of QUAZAR in that same 
issue. Or the buyer, in the sense of caveat 
emptor, trys a new game by buying it. 

In addition, my companions and I happen 
to enjoy fantasy-role playing type games; 
however, we try to be judicious in purchasing 




BOy,AFTERTHATPAif\ OF GIANTS AND THE 
NEST OF GARGOYLES .THIS SHOULD BE 
A REAL PUSHOVER 



quality. If anything, we tend to be conser- 
vative when it comes to buying new material. 
We have gambled, successfully, several times, 
but only after much forethought. 

Brian McCue's article, "Know Thyself: 
a system of personal evaluation for T.F.T." 
struck me as a rehash of several past systems 
for realism in role-playing that the TSR people 
have printed. Of course, Mr. McCue came at 
it from a different tack, but it was nothing 
new or exciting. 

Neill E. Frizzel has a much better grasp 
of the Deryni than Mr. Pehr. Consequently, 
I enjoyed it much better. I can only suggest 
to Mr. Pehr that he read all the material avail- 
able on the Deryni before he claims that they 
are chaoti evil. The Deryni are merely 'gifted' 
humans and possess the same social graces as 
the rest of the human race; i.e. - the ability 
to be good. Mr. Frizzel suggests limiting 
the number of active Deryni, but he, and DM's, 
should keep in mind that the Deryni comprise 
a race of people. Also, they are a rather close- 
knit people who are highly pro-Deryni; if they 
do not tend toward bigotry against non-psionic 
humans. 

I liked the review of QUAZAR. I thought 
there were adequate reasons given to shun 
the game. However, it reminded me of a 
review of games done by the college 'zine. 
Ampersand. The critical editors of Ampersand 
panned everything but games that a two year- 
old could master. Then the reasons they gave 
for staying away from good games went from 
taking over an hour to play to a rule book with 
forty-odd pages. I'm not suggesting that Mr. 
Armintrout falls in that category but his article 
hinges on having that impression come to mind. 
Perhaps, his article could have been tinged 
with a little less sarcasm and carping; yet have 
the same effect of cautioning buyers. 

Mr. Pehrl Please. I don't want to focus on 
you, and the rest of the contributers to The 
Space Gamer, negatively; yet when you suggest 
Valde wizards I must protest. I believe that in 
trying to create a schema for including book 
characters into TFT you sacrifice too much 
for the sake of universal acceptance. Dibell's 
Valde are not human. They share humanoid 
characteristics but they are more like elvish 
folk. The Valde are reluctant to kill, yes! 
But this reluctance is due to the empathy they 
share for the living creatures. The reason 
Dibell gives for the extermination of the 
Screamers is: the Valde do not sense souls 
in the Screamers. The Screamers are not alive 
to their sense, and therefore anathema. Then 
you focus on the dueltrance. Tsk! Tsk! The 
dueltrance is a special rite among the Valde, 
and must be prepared for. In addition, the 
duels are fought in concealed privacy - Valde 
warrior to Valde warrior. I know it is unrea- 
sonable to suggest that adaptions of the Deryni, 
the Valde, and others like them be done with 
more discretion; with other writers who are 
unfamiliar with the Deryni and the Valde 
making them chaotic-evil or wizards. 

Lawrence Henry Apodaca 
Austin, TX 



$2.95 



Olympica 




THE WEBBIES WANT YOUR MIND. 









■ 
- 



,■■ ■ - 1 , 



UlicroGame 7 



OLYMPICA simulates the U.N. Mars raid to capture the Web 
Mind Generator from a heavily defended area near Nix Olympica's 
massive caldera. The Webbie revolutionaries are deep in their 
tunnel complexes surrounded by strongpoints and infantry. The 
raiders will use infantry, laser tanks, lifters and the tunnel busting 
BOAR drill. If they fail man's future may fall to the telepathic, 
religion/machine Web Mind of Mars. 

OLYMPICA is the clever tactical creation of Lynn Willis. His 
future history of the Martian revolution of 2206 hinges on the 
crucial U.N. raid. The game is easy to learn, fast playing, and 
challenging. Like the other MicroGames, it is ideal for beginners 
and fun for pros. OLYMPICA is the perfect game for those who've 
never tried science fiction games. 

Components include: 
*24 page rules booklet 
*8"x 14" map 
*96 unit counters 



TACTICAL SPACESHIP DESIGN AND COMBAT. 



WARPWAR is a game of interstellar maneuver and tactical 
combat. Players design their own ships with offensive, defensive, 
and movement capability. Ships move through space -- or jump 
along the warplines that connect certain stars -- to gain control 
of enemy base stars. 

WARPWAR uses a unique diceless combat system. Each player 
selects movement and combat allocations for his units. No chance 
is involved. . . you must outguess your opponent. 

Advance rules introduce Systemships and a technology factor 
which gives newer ships an advantage in combat. 

Components include: 
*24 page rules booklet 
*8"x 14" map 
*56 unit counters 




OLYMPICA and WarpWar are available at your local hobby, toy, or book stores-ask for 
them. Both are $2.95 when ordered from Metagaming. Subsribers to THE SPACE GAMER 
pay $2.50. Each order requires a 50-cent postage charge. 



Metagaming 

Box 15346, Austin, TX 78761 



30 




Please inform your readers that they may 
have gotten an incorrect impression of me from 
my letter (or excerpts thereof) printed in TSG 
no. 22. All you printed was the part about 
TARTARS AND MARTYRS being "really 
dumb," MicroGames possibly dying off, and 
the parts saying "I hate your Feedback Form" 
and "I hate the name Microtures." Readers 
who might infer from these selections that I 
was writing a poison-pen (or poison-typewriter) 
letter should be told (whether they care or not) 
that I wrote a much longer letter than what was 
printed, which had a number of nice things 
to say. For instance, I distinctly remember 
making really polite and tactful and compli- 
tary comments on your handling of my POND 
WAR piece, on MicroGame subscriptions, on 
the art you're publishing, on Howard Thomp- 
son's opinions about the Middle East situation, 
on the brilliant syntactical clarity of the ad 
copy for HOLY WAR, on the perpetually 
amazing proofreaders you employ, on Steve 
Jackson's checkered past (I assume the FBI 
hasn't caught up with him yet), on Ben Ostran- 
der's quite valid reasons for concealing from 
everybody what the C in his name stands for 
(I understand, it's all right, there, there), and 
most importantly on TSG's reliable punctual- 
ity. Better than punctual, in fact - my copy 
of no. 22, the March-April issue, arrived May 29, 
fully 24 hours before I expected it. 



And to prove I haven't run out of compli- 
mentary things to say, I should tell you that 
I enjoyed all the articles in no. 22, particularly 
Paul Wagner's PARTY BRAWL, which I found 
vastly entertaining. Less satisfactory was 
"Three Words", mainly because I could see no 
reason why Brian McCue had to set his story 
after 1992. It could just as easily have taken 
place today. 

Allen Varney 
Reno, NV 



When I opened my mailbox today and saw 
the familiar white envelope with my Space 
Gamer inside, I was amazed. Just imaginel 
For the first time in recent history, TSG had 
arrived early! I didn't see any signs of a rushed 
job, either, which lets me hope you've finally 
got things in order down in Austin. 

My joy was short-lived, however, when 
I read some of the articles in no. 24. Instead 
of being happy and content after reading it 
cover to cover, I was depressed. 

I play wargames-especially science fiction 
wargames-to forget about the real world. I 
don't want to be reminded that the U.S. 
inflation rate is nearing 15% or that the Rus- 
sians are taking over the world or that Western 
Culture is on the ropes. I look forward to 
receiving my Space Gamer because it is supposed 
to deal with games, which are supposed to be 



fun. For some reason, I don't think I'm going 
to have nearly as much fun playing Starship 
Troopers now that I will be seeing it as a sexual 
release mechanism. It probably is, but I don't 
want to see it explained in detail just after 
I've finished reading Howard Thompson's 
depressing "Where We're Going". 

And then there was the guy who criticized 
Ogre, one of my all-time fun wargames, because 
it wasn't a totally accurate armor warfare 
simulation. Three blows in only 28 pagesl 
I was ready to throw the magazine in the 
trash can. So what if Ogre and GEV have a 
move-then-fire sequence? It may not be 
realistic, but it fits with the rest of the game 
and doesn't overly complicate play flow. 
Despite its faults, I doubt whether I've ever 
played any games more exciting than the now- 
cliche "lunch break Ogre". I don't expect 
extreme realism from a MicroGame-and I 
don't want it. 

In retrospect, there were some bright 
spots in TSG no. 24. The four howitzer de- 
fense article was superb-a classic example of 
what I want to see in a game magazine. And 
the Black Hole introduction was interesting, 
if nothing else. 

Tom Geen 
Columbia, MO 



I really wish it were so "black and white" 
easy to distinguish between a good game and 
a bad one. Unfortunately it is not. 

First, it is not always easy to look at the 
rules before the purchase. If the packaging 
doesn't stop you the storekeeper usually will. 
And I can understand them not wanting people 
rooting through their games. 

Second, even if you could read the rules 
before hand it might not be of much help. 
It takes at least two readings, of most games, 
to understand how everything works. Even 
then, I've read ambiguous or uneven rules 
that, when played out, are quite acceptable. 

You can't even rely on a friends opinion, 
since his personal tastes might influence his 
evaluation. I've played many games that are 
good playable games but I don't give them 
my recommendation because / don't like the 
subject matter. 

The best way to buy an unknown game is 
a combination of all the above. Play the game 
if you can but if you can't, check with friends, 
try to read a copy of the rules, even look for 
printed reviews. But don't forget what I think 
is the single most important factor-the designer 
and publisher. If you have had good luck with 
them before and know that they are dedicated 
to good material then they probably won't 
let you down. If on the other hand you have 
had bad experiences, don't buy it. They were 
probably just out for your money and have not 
changed since their last game. 

This is where you Metagaming people have 
my vote. I have yet to see a shoddy job come 
from you and I don't think I will. That is why 
a $30 price tag on TFT: ITL won't phase me 
a bit. I know it will be worth itl 



Wayne F. Cummings 



5T£LL4ft 
CONQUEST 



*•*&*«** 




MB" 1 "" 



A classic science fiction 
game. . . available again! 
Fight for control of a 
globular cluster — build, 
research, andexplore. 
Victory will go to the 
player who makes best use 
of the available resources 
to outbuild and outguess 
h is (or her) rivals. 



The new boxed edition of STELLAR CONQUEST 
includes 480 counters, 17" x 22" full-color map, rules book, 
star cards, data sheets, and record sheets. The price is only 
$12.95 - $11.50 for THE SPACE GAMER subscribers. 

Came design by Howard Thompson; cover art by 
Kelly Freas. 



When it first appeared, GODSFIRE was hailed as the best 
political/ economic SF game ever designed. Now in a new boxed edition- 
complete with beautiful full-color cover by Rick Srernbach and 
enough components for 8 plovers — GODSFIRE is a "must" 
for the skilled gamer. 

GODSFIRE is two gomes in one. The basic version is a battle game, 
with space fleets and ground forces fighting for control of 
fifteen planets. A unique movement system makes true 
three-dimensional movement easy. 

The advanced game adds diplomacy, subversion, politics — and the 
chance of Armageddon. Before you go to war, you'll have to gain 
support from internal political and economic interests 
(by fair treatment, negotiation, bribery, or force) — 
or face revolution. 

Components include two giant 22" by 34" strategic maps, 
1 5 System Sheets and 6 National Government Sheets; 960 unit counters; 
616 Gigabuck counters; and the rule booklet. 

Playing time ranges from two hours to all day, depending on the 
scenario (from 2 to 1 5 players) that you choose. 

Designed by Lynn Willis; edited by Steve Jackson; cover art 
by Rick Sfernbach. 

GODSFIRE sells for $15.95 — or $14.00 for 
The Space Gamer subscribers. 




GOD 




Please send me copies of STELLAR CONQUEST at S12.95 each ($11.50 for THE SPACE GAMER subscribers) 

and copies of GODSFIRE at $15.95 each (S14.00 for TSG subscribers). I (am) (am not) a TSG subscriber. 

Please enter my subscription to THE SPACE GAMER for months, at $8.00 for 6 issues or $15.00 for 12 

issues. 1 understand that this subscription entitles me to the subscriber discount on games I am ordering now. 

Name Address City State Zip 

Please add 50 cents for postage and handling. 

<@etagaming ess ™ 



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NUMBER 25 



$159 



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